Scotch Whisky Industry Builds On Its Green Credentials

12 Sep 2012

Great Strides Being Made In Meeting Environmental Targets

The Scotch Whisky industry is on course to meet its ambitious environmental targets, from use of non-fossil fuel to waste management, according to a report published today.

The Scotch Whisky Industry Environmental Strategy Report 2012 provides a comprehensive update on progress towards reaching the strategy targets set for 2020 and 2050. Launched in 2009, it is the most comprehensive industry-wide environmental strategy in Scotland.

The report from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) reveals that energy sourced from non-fossil fuel has doubled to 6% since the last report published in 2010. This supports a low carbon economy. 

A series of large investments by Scotch Whisky distilleries has assisted the move to renewable energy. Since 2008, more than £160 million has been invested in renewable energy schemes at five industry sites, including large-scale anaerobic digestion, biomass and renewable combined heat and power. Scotch Whisky companies are the biggest investors in renewable energy in Scotland outside the utilities sector.

One example of a renewables project is the £60.5 million biomass/feeds combined heat and power plant under construction in Rothes, Speyside. It will use Scotch Whisky distillery by-products to generate enough electricity to power all the houses in Elgin, produce animal feed and drastically cut carbon emissions.  Helius CoRDe Ltd - a consortium including Scotch Whisky producers - is behind the scheme.

As well as investing in the use of by-products to create energy, the Scotch Whisky industry remains committed to the supply of high-quality animal feed.

Impressive progress has also been made on reaching the commitment of sending no packaging waste to landfill by 2020, with a cut from 17% to 7% as a result of changes already made to the handling of waste at bottling halls.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, director of operational and technical affairs at the SWA, said:

"The Scotch Whisky industry has always had strong green credentials. Progress in reaching our stretching environmental targets is evidence of the industry's ongoing commitment which is supported by the considerable capital investment in sustainability projects. These are still early days of a 40-year plus programme and the industry is making good steps towards its goals.

"We're delighted at the level of innovation shown by the industry, from pioneering light-weight bottles to vast renewables schemes, by Scotch Whisky producers of all sizes. We realise more work remains to be done, but we're confident we can achieve our aims. A number of major capital investments have been announced recently and the industry is working closely with the supply chain to share efficiencies.  However, we also need support from governments in a number of areas, including planning, incentives to switch to renewables and a simplification of the energy policy framework."

Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said:

"The Scotch Whisky industry has been quick to recognise the importance of an industry that can deliver sustainable economic growth. It is showing true leadership to other industry sectors by being the first to align itself with the Scottish Government's climate change targets."


Notes to Editors:
For a full copy of the Scotch Whisky Industry Environmental Strategy Report 2012 and a selection of industry case studies please click here.

For further information please contact Rosemary Gallagher, SWA communications manager, on 0131 222 9230/0743 260 5385 or email

Supporting quotes:

Andy Rosie, head of operations - north, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said: "SEPA is delighted to acknowledge the continuing progress made by the Scotch Whisky industry in pursuing their Environmental Strategy.  This is an excellent example of an industry going beyond strict compliance with Scottish regulations and setting challenging targets for itself; thereby demonstrating real leadership in reducing their environmental foot-print because they have a strong conviction that it is the right thing to do. 

"SEPA works cooperatively with the sector on aspects of environmental management, helping the industry focus on priorities and achieve environmental outcomes that really make a difference to the environment, and neighbouring communities close to Scottish distilleries."

Lloyd Austin, head of conservation policy at RSPB Scotland, said: "RSPB Scotland welcomes the efforts that the Scotch Whisky Industry is taking to become more sustainable. The ambition held by Scotch Whisky producers to move "beyond compliance" is especially welcome - and a recognition that the industry, and its brand values, depends on a clean, healthy environment.  As well as direct benefit to the industry from, for example, a clean, unpolluted water supply, the Scottish environment is also the backdrop to brand image.  We wish all the industry well as their efforts continue and look forward to working with them to deepen this commitment, both in the industry itself and through their supply chains."

Dr Richard Dixon, head of WWF Scotland: "These results are excellent and doubly pleasing since whisky is such an iconic product of Scotland. I have been very impressed with the high levels of co-operation within the whisky industry and the long-term thinking evident among the key players."

Daniel Gotts, policy and advice manager - sustainable development, Scottish Natural Heritage, said: "We welcome this initiative by the Scotch Whisky industry to address the environmental impacts of its operations. It's good to see an economic sector explicitly recognising both the benefits it gets from Scotland's high-quality natural environment and the importance of looking after this key asset. The whisky industry is providing leadership and setting a great example to other sectors by working with its upstream and downstream suppliers to help them improve their environmental performance as well."