Ensuring a sustainable future for Scotch Whisky and its natural environment

Scotch Whisky makes a vital contribution to the Scottish economy – adding around £5 billion each year to the UK economy and supporting 40,000 jobs in Scotland.

Scotch Whisky is a natural product closely tied to its environment and rural communities across Scotland. Environmental sustainability is therefore one of the industry’s and Association's top priorities. Building on an original 2009 sector environmental strategy, the industry refreshed its ambitious and wide-reaching Environmental Strategy in September 2016. The strategy displays a real commitment from members to lessening the environmental footprint of the sector and confirms the industry aims to move beyond compliance to deliver sustainability.

There are specific targets to be met by 2020 such as 1) sourcing 20% of primary energy from non-fossil fuels; 2) improving energy efficiency by 7.6%; 3) reducing by 10% the average unit weight of packaging material; 4) improving distilling water efficiency by 10%; 5) no general waste from Scotch Whisky operations to landfill or 6) 40% of product packaging to be from recycled materials as well as ensuring that all packaging will be reusable or recyclable.

The Environmental Strategy is already moving the majority of SWA members in a beyond compliance direction. Building on these ambitions, SWA is proud to be the first Sector Plan to be launched by the Environmental Regulator (SEPA). The SWA do not work in isolatuin to deliover on these objectives byut together with the wider supply chain, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Environmental NGOs as well as Government bodies and agencies.

Results are already there! The industry performance 2009-2016 shows that greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 22% since 2008. This means with global exports of £4.37bn, the Scotch Whisky industry accounts for 20% of all UK food and drink exports, but only accounts for 10.7% of the energy use. The Scotch Whisky industry has surpassed its 2020 target and achieved 21% of primary energy use from non-fossil fuel sources, up from 3% in 2008. Net water use has fallen by 29% since the 2012 base year. This means that since 2012, the equivalent of over 1,800 Olympic sized swimming pools has been saved.

The recycled content of the industry's product packaging stood at 44% in 2016, beating the 2020 goal that 40% of product packaging will be made from recyclable materials.

Looking beyond 2020, SWA will focus on peat, a slowly renewable natural resource which is used by the industry in small quantity. Collaboration will start with the supply chain as well as other key stakeholders to put a Peat Use Action Plan into place to ensuring its availability for the long-term.

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