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Diageo aims to warm up net-zero credentials with Fife solar farm plans

Spirits giant Diageo – Scotland’s biggest whisky producer by volume – has applied for planning permission for a major on-site solar energy farm at its Leven packaging plant.

Should the plans get the green light, they would see 12,000 solar panels capable of producing four megawatts of electricity installed on vacant land at the 150-acre plant, which produces 40 million cases of premium spirits each year.

The owner of brands including Johnnie Walker and Guinness said the move is part of its plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions from its direct operations by 2030 – and it is working with energy company E.ON and Emtec Energy, a local Scottish business, to develop the solar-panel farm.

The latter would be entirely within the existing footprint of the Leven packaging plant site

and is planned carefully to ensure minimal visual and environmental impact on the surrounding area.

Does making whiskey harm the environment?

Gavin Brogan, operations director at the Leven packaging plant, said: “We have been on the journey to environmental sustainability at Leven for many years and we have made great progress, but this solar array would take us to another level, allowing us to generate our own renewable energy onsite and contributing to Diageo’s global ambition to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

“We have planned this carefully and we are happy to engage our neighbours and local stakeholders during the planning application process.”

The firm added that in Scotland, three of its Scotch whisky distilleries – Oban, Royal Lochnagar and Brora – have already achieved net-zero carbon emissions. Diageo also recently confirmed that its Johnnie Walker Princes Street attraction in Edinburgh will open on September 6.


Greener whisky: Scottish distilleries working on reducing carbon footprint

As world leaders gather in Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference, many will be sampling a dram or two of Scotland’s famous whiskies.

And they may even take note of how the industry is leading the way to create a carbon-neutral future.

One of Scotland’s most prestigious whisky makers, Oban, has been looking at ways of reducing its carbon footprint in the whisky-making process.

In 2018, the distillery switched from using fossil fuels to a rapeseed oil biofuel, reducing the distillery’s carbon footprint by 98 per cent.

“It’s given us a transition fuel to be carbon neutral quicker. We have been carbon neutral now since late 2020. It’s allowing us to make that transition step towards zero carbon,” says Callum Rew, the senior site manager of Oban Distillery.

“We wanted to be out there, we wanted to be pioneering, we wanted to be there first and try and do something and learn, so as the other distilleries within Diageo can learn from ourselves.”

“And biofuel was new on the market, so we thought we’ll try it, we’ll test it, it’s a very relatively small distillery here at Oban, so it’s maybe easier to try and integrate it here first.”

Does making whiskey harm the environment?

Whisky making can be taxing on the environment. A huge amount of energy is required to extract the sugars out of the grain in the mashing process before even taking into account transporting the products all around the world.

But the industry has been taking steps to lower the environmental impact.

According to the Scotch Whisky Association, since 2009, there has been a 34 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

A huge amount of energy is required to extract the sugars out of the grain in the mashing processs.”

Karen Betts, chief executive of the associations laid out the industry’s plans: “It’s really important to us that we are sustainable both now and into the future. We think that through collaboration, innovation, investment, ingenuity, and a bit of time, we can get there by 2040. And if we can get there by 2040, we absolutely should.”

On the western edge of the Scottish highlands, Ardnamurchan Distillery has been using sustainable energy sources since its opening in July 2014.

Shift leader in the distillery, Scott Stewart, says that Scotch whisky’s new green credentials will give it recognition all over the world.

“It’s what the country is famous for, it’s so famous for its whisky. So, if we can show that one of our major exports, or biggest export, is being as green as possible and as sustainable as possible and environmentally conscious, then it reflects fantastically on the whole country. And it can be an example to other industries to follow.”

It is estimated the Scottish whisky production is worth around €6.5 billion to the British exchequer and, with a little Dutch courage, the industry is aiming to reach net-zero emissions in its operations by 2040, ten years ahead of the British government’s 2050 target.


The Scotch Whisky Experience debuts sustainability line

Edinburgh’s stop for whisky aficionados has partnered with KAPDAA to make bespoke gifts from waste

Since 1988, The Scotch Whisky Experience has been helping visitors fall in love with Scotland’s national drink. Now, customers can enjoy an authentic, ethical experience following new sustainability commitments.

The Scotch Whisky Experience – which offers tours and hospitality to wanderers from around the world – has partnered with KAPDAA – The Offcut Company to inspire a new collection of upcycled gifts.

KAPDAA, is a UK-based textiles business that gives waste material a second lease of life as luxury trinkets.

The partnership will see The Scotch Whiskey Experience repurpose items no longer in use, starting with a new line of notebooks made from recycled kilts.

Operations Director Angela Dineen said: “We are doing our best to source local, sustainable products for our shop and KAPDAA allowed us to create something bespoke from items we would no longer have been using.

“We loved the ethos of KAPDAA and the story we could tell about the development of a product which was so unique to us.

“We had a pile of kilts which were no longer being worn and KAPDAA provided us with the inspiration to breathe new life into the material by creating these new notebooks – a bit like the whisky industry reusing casks for maturation we could see there was value in something someone else could no longer use.”

Staying true to its name, The Scotch Whisky Experience partners with local producers of quality products related to Scotch whisky directly, or that are inspired by whisky and the Scottish landscape.

The new collections will help the company expand as it builds back from the lockdowns, while maintaining a commitment to ethical production.

Nish Parekh, the co-founder of KAPDAA, said: “We are excited to work with The Scotch Whisky Experience as they look to expand their operations.

“The passion driving these experiences is something we can really get behind. The Scotch Whiskey Experience is always finding new ways to share its story with the world, and we’re glad to be a part of that.

“From this partnership, we also hope to show that ‘sustainability’ is not limited to the world of fashion. All businesses can make sustainable choices to enhance the experience they offer to customers.”

Angela added: “I think, generally, everyone is more aware of the crisis the planet is experiencing and we are striving to keep sustainability at the forefront of our decision-making process.

“We can see what can be done and what it means to be a sustainable business by the example KAPDAA set.

“This has given us the confidence to challenge our other suppliers to raise their game to ensure that we all do our bit to become more sustainable.“