Diageo, the London-based drinks multinational and the world’s largest spirit maker, today pledged to use the heat produced by its barley malting processes to create energy in its attempts to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from its operations within the decade.
For once, the news will be welcomed in both Washington and Beijing. US President elect Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping may be battling over the moral high ground in the race to reach carbon neutrality, but the two leaders will be all too aware that in reality, it will be largely down to industry to make it happen. Particularly to multinationals like Diageo, whose operations transcend national boundaries in particular.
Diageo now joins the likes of Unilever in setting itself tougher environmental and sustainability targets in response to increasing public and legislative pressure. Although it is headquartered in London, Diageo has operations in more than 180 countries around the world and more than 140 distilleries, breweries and bottling plants. Its most popular brands include Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness
Along with a number of initiatives designed to promote responsible drinking on the one hand and social diversity and inclusion on the other, its Society 2030: Spirit of Progress Ten-year Sustainability Action Plan also commits Diageo to switch entirely to renewable energy within the next ten years in order to achieve net zero carbon emissions throughout its direct operations. It is further pledging to work with its supplier to reduce indirect carbon emissions by 50%. As the first step in its net zero ambition, Diageo’s Oban and Royal Lochnagar Scottish distilleries will both become carbon neutral by the end of 2020 and Diageo will aim to achieve net zero in India by 2025.
The Scottish whisky industry alone uses 61 billion litres of water each year, according to researchers at WRAP, and Diageo is one of several big beverage companies including General Mills, Coca-Cola Company and Molson-Coors Brewing now taking to heart their contribution to the ever-growing problem of water shortages to their supply chains as well as to their public image. By 2030, it hopes to ensure that every drink it produces will take 30% less water to make than it does today. In addition, it plans to instigate water projects in over 150 communities across the world, and to provide the villages involved with access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.
“As a global business, we are committed to playing our part to protect the future of our planet and to leading the way for others to follow.” Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes said. “I am immensely proud of Diageo’s sustainability and responsibility achievements to date, and this new, ambitious action plan will challenge us even further to deliver more over the critical decade to 2030.”