From Ketel One to Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal and Guinness, Diageo’s brands are recognized across the globe. A leader in the beverage industry, Diageo is responsible for brands in spirits, beer, and wine, and collectively, the company produces 6.5 billion liters of product annually in over 30 countries.  

(Image courtesy of The Drum)

With such a large footprint, sustainability and responsibility is a focused investment area for Diageo; a part of their purpose “to help our consumers celebrate life, every day, everywhere, and to do so responsibly.” According to their website, Diageo’s focus on sustainability and responsibility is all-encompassing:

"Putting the principles of sustainability and responsibility into practice means accounting for our most material social and environmental impacts in every aspect of what we do - from sourcing raw materials, to running our manufacturing safely and efficiently, to influencing how our brands are sold and consumed."

A Focus on Water Conservation

With roughly one-third of its operations in water-stressed locations across the world, Diageo’s highest environmental priority is water conservation. Diageo “aspire[s] to be a business which does not materially deplete natural resources, does not contribute to climate change, causes no lasting damage to species, habitats, or biodiversity - and wherever possible, improves the environment we operate in.”

In their 2014 annual report, the company highlighted a 2.4% decrease in water usage since 2013, currently at 6.9 liters of water required for one liter of packaged product. Diageo also reported a reduction in water withdrawals by 9% and a reduction in water wasted at water stressed locations by 12%.

In April, the company released their Water Blueprint, a stewardship strategy that describes how they plan to protect and manage water resources across the globe, particularly in the water stressed areas where they operate.

(Image courtesy of Diageo)

The blueprint expands on Diageo’s commitment to water conservation, and their 2020 goals are substantial. A few of their targets include:

  • Equipping suppliers with tools to protect water resources in the most water stressed locations
  • Reducing water use through a 50% improvement in water use efficiency
  • Returning 100% of wastewater from their operations to the environment safely
  • Replenishing water stressed locations with the same amount of water used in their final products
  • Ensuring access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene for employees in all premises under Diageo’s control

Diageo also plans to expand on their Water of Life program – an initiative to provide safe drinking water and sanitation for those in need – to all production sites in water stressed areas. By collaborating with various organizations, the program has helped provide safe drinking water for ten million people in Africa.

Diageo also discusses advocacy as a key pillar in their Water Blueprint. The company is a participant of the CEO Water Mandate, an initiative created by the UN to assist companies with the development of and reporting on water sustainability practices. As part of their 2020 goals, Diageo plans to collaborate with government, development organizations, and private sector companies across the globe to address the water crisis.

2020 Waste and Packaging Targets

Though Diageo’s primary environmental concern is water conservation, they also focus heavily on waste reduction and sustainable packaging. In their Sustainable Packaging Guidelines, Diageo introduced their sustainable packaging life cycle assessment tool (called SPOT), which is used to determine the impact of new and existing package designs on the environment. Using data from this tool, the company can quickly assess the impact of their packaging and make adjustments, as needed.

In the guidelines, Diageo also discussed their focus on recycling, explaining that the glass, aluminum, and steel used to package their materials is 100% recyclable, and over 70% of the board used in their cases comes from recycled material. In the report, they set a 2015 goal to have over 40% of their product packaging made from recycled materials.

Alongside their commitment to water conservation, Diageo recently outlined several ambitious goals for waste reduction and sustainable packaging. Their 2020 targets include:

  • Reducing total packaging by 15%
  • Increasing recycled content to 45%
  • Ensuring 100% of their packaging is recyclable
  • Achieving zero waste to landfill
  • Sustainably sourcing all paper and board packaging

It is refreshing to know that an industry leader like Diageo places such a strong emphasis on sustainable practices across their operations. We look forward to seeing how the company progresses on their 2020 targets!

This is our final post in a series on sustainability in the beverage industry.