Ricardo toasts launch of Scotch Whisky industry’s sustainability strategy

Ricardo toasts launch of Scotch Whisky industry’s sustainability strategy
11 February 2021

Ricardo experts are raising a glass to toast the launch of the Scotch Whisky industry’s sustainability strategy after playing a key role in its development.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has announced the sector’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions in its operations by 2040, months after publishing a plan looking at the practical ways it could achieve that aim.

The development of strategy was supported by sustainability and energy experts from Ricardo, who analysed data from more than 120 Scotch whisky sites across Scotland.

Author of the report, consultant Raphael Sibille, said: “Our engineering team and carbon management experts examined energy use and emissions at sites across Scotland. We looked at how this might evolve over the coming decades, and asked ourselves the question, what technologies can close the gap to net zero?" 

“We modelled seven technology scenarios to identify pathways to net zero, consulting with the sector to bring them on the net zero journey and validate our assessment of what is possible. We looked at how sustained energy efficiency improvements with anaerobic digestion, biomass, hydrogen and high temperature heat pumps could be deployed across the industry.”

The Scotch Whisky industry’s new sustainability strategy builds on progress that has been made over the past ten years when distillers have succeeded in cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than a third.

Commitments in the strategy include making all new product packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 and ensuring all producers stay within a responsible water use range by the same date.

The original report, published in May last year, also highlighted the challenges faced by the industry, including a need for policy certainty around the implementation of new technologies such as hydrogen, and explored the need for appropriate incentives to encourage SWA members to commit to a low carbon approach. With the strategy published Ricardo are now supporting SWA members to achieve net zero in line with the sector’s goals and the Scottish Government targets. 

Dagmar Droogsma, Director of Industry of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "The new Scotch Whisky Sustainability Strategy contains ambitious targets to take the industry to net zero emissions in our operations ahead of both Scottish and UK Government targets. This has only been achieved through the willingness of the whole industry to invest and collaborate on initiatives that will help us improve Scotch Whisky’s environmental impact. While we have made significant positive progress against our original targets, the Scotch Whisky industry knows that we need to go further and faster. The report by Ricardo will help the Scotch Whisky industry on its journey to become Net Zero, and to build on our successes so far.”

If you want to know more about how your organisation or sector can work towards achieving net zero, Ricardo has planned a series of webinars, in conjunction with Mott Macdonald, starting on 16 February. For more information and to register, click here

Join our net zero webinar series