Scotch whisky makers set ‘challenging’ green goals

The Scottish whisky industry has this week unveiled four new "challenging" sustainability targets in an effort to reduce carbon, drive water efficiency and embrace circular economy models in the supply chain.

The industry-wide Scotch Whisky Environmental Strategy, which first launched in 2009, is expanding its targets, recognising the need to minimise the use of common natural resources in alcohol production and the sectors overall impact on the environment.

Overseen by the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA), the strategy includes four key targets: –

  • To reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by sourcing 80% of the sectors primary energy from renewable resources by 2050.
  • Promote a greater focus on responsible water use by improving water efficiency in the distilling process by 10% by 2020.
  • Embrace a circular business model through various initiatives such as implementing no-waste-to-landfill and 100% recyclable packaging measures by 2020.
  • Greater sustainable land use, achieved by sourcing high quality raw materials such as cereal and wood from sustainable areas.

SWA deputy chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird said: “The refresh of the Scotch Whisky Industry Environmental Strategy is a clear sign of bold industry intentions on sustainability. Sound environmental management is an industry priority and goes hand in hand with business growth.

“Our strategy is collective, building on the work of individual Scotch Whisky producers. And strong support from governments and our supply chains will be needed to help deliver on our ambitions.

“The strategy remains the only one in Scotland covering an entire industry. It sets out challenging voluntary goals that will protect the natural environment for generations to come.”

Diageo’s Ad plant

This announcement comes in the same week that SWA member, drinks business Diageo, released a first-year performance update for a giant anaerobic digestion (AD) plant installed at its Glendullan distillery.

The on-site bio-energy AD plant, installed by Clearfleau, is delivering a 25% reduction in fossil fuel demand for the site, reducing its footprint by roughly 1,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. The distillery is now converting malt and distillery waste products into approximately one million cubic meters of biogas per year, producing 6,000MWh of thermal energy for the distillery.

These outputs are, however, lower than what was originally expected of the AD plant. When it was first commissioned in 2015, Clearfleau estimated it would generate two million cubic meters of biogas and around 8,000MWh of thermal energy a year.

Explaining the difference, Clearfleau’s marketing director Richard Gueterbock told edie: “The plant is located on a distillery and we have designed it to be able to treat well over 1000 cubic metres per day of Pot Ale and other co-products. The biogas produced is based on what is being supplied to the AD plant, both in terms of volume and COD [chemical oxygen demand] load.

“The energy output is a reflection of the load that is being treated in the AD plant and feedstock volumes are lower than was initially expected. Energy output will increase in the next few years as the volume of feedstock gets closer to the design capacity.

In related news this week, Diageo announced it had joined the RE100, the initiative for companies to only source 100% renewable electricity.

Alex Baldwin

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