As part of the Diageo sustainability agenda, Scottish distilleries to net zero


Via Kristy Dorsey

As part of owner Diageo’s latest 10-year sustainability action plan, two Scottish distilleries will reach zero carbon emissions by the end of this year.

The distilleries of Oban and Royal Lochnagar will be the first to turn to 100% renewable energy, as Diageo aims to achieve this target for its entire portfolio of 28 single-malt production plants by 2030. As heat is the largest user of energy in the distillation process, the conversion of boilers to renewable liquid biofuels generated from vegetable oil residues has been the most important advance at Oban and Royal Lochnagar.

Diageo’s smallest and second smallest distilleries in Scotland are Royal Lochnagar and Oban, each producing less than one million liters of alcohol per year. The whisky portfolio of the company encompasses processing capacities ranging from two to 12 million liters per year of alcohol.

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The beverage giant has set itself the goal of achieving net-zero emissions in all its direct activities, which cover more than 70 countries around the world, as part of its Society 2030 Action Plan. Almost 28 per cent of the Group’s energy intake actually comes from renewable sources.

Growing the proportion of women and minorities in senior management and a drive to foster positive drinking habits are other main things on the sustainability agenda.

Ewan Andrew, Diageo’s chief sustainability officer, said that acting now “critical” was “if we are to preserve the wonderful world we all live in.”

“I’m proud that we’ve already halved our own carbon footprint and that we’ll continue to strive to become carbon neutral by 2030,” he said. “It feels fitting that we are leading the way with the Oban and Royal Lochnagar distilleries, both of which will be carbon neutral by the end of the year.”

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The company intends to ensure by the end of the decade that the manufacture of each of its drinks needs 30 percent less water than it does today. This entails a specific emphasis on breweries, most of which are located in places like Africa that are water-scarce.

Diageo said it would raise the proportion of executives from ethnic backgrounds to 45 percent of its 600 directors worldwide by 2030 in terms of diversity and inclusion. The organization has declined to provide actual figures on this metric, stating that it will report on it in July 2021 at the end of the current fiscal year.

In terms of gender, Diageo said that over the next 10 years, it intends to reach 50 percent female representation in its top ranks. 39 percent of senior positions are actually filled by women.

Chief Executive Ivan Menezes said that he hopes that the organization will “really break down barriers and help shape a more diverse and successful company and society in the long term.” by setting such targets.

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Diageo plans to use its products to reach more than a billion individuals with messages of moderation in order to support its positive drinking agenda. The business will also aim to shift attitudes about drinking and driving in places where it is still common, and through its Shattered outreach campaign, which operates on every continent, has undertaken to educate more than 10 million people about the risks of underage drinking.

“As a global company, we are committed to doing our part to protect the future of our planet and lead the way for others,” Mr. Menezes added. “I am very proud of Diageo’s sustainability and responsibility achievements to date, and this new ambitious action plan will challenge us to do even more in the crucial decade to 2030.”

The company has also launched an investment platform for “Sustainable Solutions” which provides start-up and technology companies with non-equity financing that can help the company integrate sustainability into its supply chain and brands. The platform is intended to help entrepreneurs and small businesses grow their ideas and commercialize them; applications are now open through Dec. 16.


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