Diageo on turning its brewing by-products into renewable energyWe Mean Business coalition
Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol with over 200 spirit and beer brands, is using innovative ways to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and protect its supply chain. These include generating renewable energy from its brewery and distilling by-products known as ‘draff’.
The spent grain or ‘draff’ has a high calorific value and can be converted into renewable energy in a closed-loop process with on-site bio-energy facilities, for both power and heat, using anaerobic digestion and biomass burning.
Back in 2010, Diageo opened a £40 million ($52.4 million) Roseisle Scotch whisky distillery in Speyside, Scotland, setting new standards for environmentally sustainable Scotch whisky distilleries. A key part of that project at Roseisle was to invest £17 million in a state of the art bioenergy plant, which uses by-products from the distilling process as a feed source of renewable energy for the plant.
“Overall 50% of the distillery’s energy consumption is made up from renewable sources generated by the onsite bioenergy plant with approximately 10,000 tons of CO2 per annum being saved from the use of renewable fuels,” Michael Alexander, Diageo’s Head of Water, Environment, Agriculture and Sustainability, said.
“We have replicated this approach at other plants, mainly in Scotland, and continue to manage climate change mitigation with different solutions in different geographies. For example, in Canada we have sourced biogas methane from landfill sites, which makes more sense both environmentally and economically there.”
Innovative approaches to tackling climate change such as this are part of Diageo’s ambitious emissions reduction target, which has been approved by the Science Based Target initiative.
Diageo is committed to a reduction of absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 50% by 2020, from a 2007 base-year. The company also commits to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) across the total supply chain of its products by 30%, within the same timeframe.
“Our success has deep links with the environment and the communities where we source, make and sell our brands – and for our business to thrive, these communities, and the environment, must thrive too. This is why we take great care in building sustainable supply chains and work hard to protect the environment and the natural resources we all rely on,” Alexander said.
Diageo is also committed to improving water security, as part of its suite of strategic climate commitments via the We Mean Business coalition’s Take Action campaign.
“As a drinks company, water is critical for us, and water security remains a key priority, particularly in our water-stressed locations. In water stressed areas we have recognized that we need to focus our action not only on our own operations, but across the whole catchment in which we are based,” Alexander said. “We have 41 sites located in water-stressed areas, most of which are breweries and distilleries, accounting for about a third of our global volume of production – so the business case is clear.”
“In our brewery in Northern Tanzania, we helped local barley farmers who supply the brewery to manage their water use more efficiently. This included creating a program with non-government organization partners Water Witness International to provide those smallholder farmers with new approaches and know-how regarding water retention, yield, and productivity.”
To date, Diageo has reduced its carbon emissions by 40.5%, from a 2007 base year, despite increased scale and production. That’s well on the way to hitting its target to reduce emissions by 50% by 2020.
“Targets are a hugely important mechanism to energize the business, to achieve something collectively, to give a vision and a mission,” Alexander said.
“As we progress the integration of sustainability within the business, our aim is to transparently communicate how the strategy, governance, and performance create value – for our business and society, both now and in the future,” Alexander added.