Scotch whisky goes green

04 June, 2009

The Scotch whisky industry has unveiled new plans to reduce its environmental impact. Scotch whisky companies have pledged to cut their use of fossil fuels by 80 per cent by 2050, under the first industry-wide environmental strategy, published on 3 June.

The Scotch Whisky Association also announced that member companies had already agreed plans to invest over £100m in environmental initiatives, such as bio-energy plants at Roseisle, Cameronbridge, and the Combination of Rothes Distillers.   The industry also pledged to work with its supply chain to reduce their CO2 emissions. 

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “The launch of our first industry-wide Environmental Strategy is a bold move by distillers.  We believe it demonstrates our commitment to securing Scotch Whisky’s future, addressing issues of the  environment and the economy.

“Investment of over £100m has been approved in environment-related improvements over the last 18 months alone.  The good news is that we are making more whisky but already using less energy.  Spirit production has increased by over 20 per cent over the last decade, yet our energy efficiency has also improved by a similar amount - a great achievement.

“We are not newcomers to the environmental agenda but there is a recognition that we must do more across all our operations.   We intend to work closely with our supply chain - 50 per cent of our emissions are not under our direct control - so that we can jointly reduce our impacts on the environment.” 

The fossil fuel reduction amounts to an annual saving by 2050 of over 750,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide - the equivalent of taking 235,000 cars off Scotland’s roads.

WWF Scotland's director, Dr Richard Dixon, said: "Scotch whisky is world renowned and we welcome plans to reduce the environmental footprint of each and every dram.  We particularly welcome the fact that they have set themselves targets to reduce their impact.

Since the whisky industry relies on Scotland's clean environment for its main ingredients it is important the industry takes steps to reduce its potential impacts. As the whisky industry learns more about the total impacts of its activities we expect to see the targets being raised in a number of key areas."