Case Study - Diageo Zero Waste

01 Dec 2012

Diageo is a global drinks company behind an array of world-renowned Scotch Whisky brands, including single malts, such as Talisker and Lagavulin and the iconic Johnnie Walker premium Blended Scotch. With over 50 sites in Scotland, ranging from malt and grain whisky distilleries to warehousing, from coopering to coppersmiths and from office buildings to major packaging plants, Diageo's operations are extensive and varied.

And it is inevitable that such wide-ranging operations also produce extensive and varied amounts of waste. Because of this, in 2007 Diageo decided to take radical and decisive action to reduce the impact of its day-to-day operations on the environment and a key target was to reduce dramatically waste to landfill across its Scottish sites.

In the five years since, through a process of setting strong targets and by engaging employees in the drive towards sustainability, Diageo has reduced the amount of waste it sends to landfill by 97%, achieving an overall reduction from 2,735 tonnes per annum to 85 tonnes.

At 30 June 2012 a third of Diageo's sites in Scotland had achieved a full year with zero waste being sent to landfill. These sites included many with complex and varied waste streams such as Diageo's Leven packaging plant in Fife, its corporate HQ in Edinburgh, Cambus Cooperage and Abercrombie's Coppersmiths in Alloa. It also includes malt distilleries, such as Glenkinchie near Edinburgh. In 2008 the sites which are now zerowaste-to-landfill had sent a combined total of 620 tonnes to landfill.

For the rest of Diageo's sites the vast majority of waste produced is also now recycled with only a small amount of waste going to landfill where it is absolutely unavoidable. Every site remains firmly focused on achieving zero waste to landfill. To achieve this level of reduction, Diageo focused across all of its sites on clearly identifying waste streams and working in the first instance to reduce the amount of waste and then on ensuring any unavoidable waste was recycled rather than sent to landfill.

Key to the success which has been achieved so far is the high level of employee engagement, with Diageo staff at all sites taking a proactive role in reducing the amount of waste produced and taking pride in reducing their environmental impact.