The Scotch Whiskey Association (SWA) has committed to reduce emissions across the industry through wider adoption of renewables, which will provide 20% of primary energy by the end of the decade.
The SWA, which manages the strategy for the industry, has updated its environmental sustainability plan with stakeholders to reflect customer expectations as well as the ambitions of the Scottish government.
Its updated targets include increased ambition for sourcing energy from non-fossil fuels, which will provide 80% of the industry’s primary requirements by 2050. The 2020 target will rise to 40% by 2030 and will be led by wider use of anaerobic digestion and solar power.
This is a marked increase from recent levels, with only 3% of energy coming from these sources in 2008, increasing to 14% by 2014. So far, total emissions have only fallen by 1% since 2008, while emissions per unit of energy have seen a greater reduction of 13% in the same time.
The strategy also includes a target of improving energy efficiency by 7.6% by 2020, with this commitment enshrined in the scotch whiskey sector’s Climate Change Agreement.
Julie Hesketh-Laird, deputy chief executive of the SWA, 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.”
SWA has also set targets to ensure no general waste is sent to landfill from scotch whiskey operations by 2020, while 40% of the industry’s packaging will be recycled by 2020. In addition, all of the product packaging will be fully recyclable after use.
To deliver this programme, the association will work to minimise the environmental impact of the supply chain; collaborate with stakeholders and researchers to determine new approaches; gather and aggregate members’ environmental performance data to report on industry processes; and interact with stakeholders annually before reviewing the commitments every five years.
The strategy will be officially launched at an event in Edinburgh on the evening of 21 September which will be attended by environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who said: “The whisky sector has already made a significant contribution to increasing sustainability and I very much welcome this commitment to further progress.
“Making good whisky relies on quality ingredients and these in turn depend on our environment. It is heartening to see recognition of this in the SWA’s refreshed strategy, which is an excellent example of positive interaction between our natural environment and the economy.”