Scotch trade makes steady progress on green targets

The Scotch whisky industry is “on course” to meet environmental targets, despite increasing its energy use by 14% and decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions by just 1% since 2008, according to a report by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Fields of barley

A field of barley, used in whisky production

As spirit production has grown by 20% during this time, the SWA said this rise in energy use demonstrates an increase in efficiency, according to a report published today outlining its ongoing efforts to meet targets set as part of its Environmental Strategy in 2009.

The strategy was introduced to drive sustainability by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the use of fossil fuel. The report also outlined a commitment to sending no waste to landfill by 2020.

While energy use has increased, use of fossil fuels has decreased, with the proportion of energy generated using non-fossil fuels up to 17% in 2014, up from 3% in 2008. In addition, just 2% of waste from Scotch Whisky packaging operations went to landfill last year, down from 13% in 2008.

Such improvements are part down to a multi-million investment by Scotch producers in renewable energy at distilleries, which has seen new boilers using woodchip and pellets, UV solar panels and energy from distillery by-products, such as biomass and anaerobic digestion, installed.

Net water across the industry has decreased by 14% since 2008, while the average weight of packaging materials saw a slight decrease, down from 6.62kg in 2008 to 6.56kg in 2014.

“The trend is in the right direction but the industry, and suppliers, need to rise to the challenge of reducing packaging weight at the same time as consumers demand premium products in elaborate, and often heavier, bottles”, the report noted.

The report’s publication coincided with a keynote speech delivered by the SWA’s chief executive David Frost at an event in Edinburgh to highlight collaborative business-led approaches to sustainable growth.

“We have made great strides since the Industry Environmental Strategy was launched in 2009 and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved”, said Frost. “Results include only sending 2% of waste from Scotch whisky packaging operations to landfill last year, down from 13% in 2008, and increasing use of non-fossil fuels to generate energy to 17% in 2014 from 3%. But when it comes to sustainability more can always be done and we will continue to work in partnership with governments, regulators and our supply chain to further improve our environmental performance.”

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