09/11/2021-Members’Voice: Raising a glass to Sustainable Scotch, by Rosie Willmot, SWA Communications Officer

Scotch Whisky is the spirit of the Scottish landscape. The natural resources used to make it come from some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, and the industry has long been determined to play its part in preserving the ingredients and places that make Scotch Whisky so special. In 2009, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) launched its Environmental Strategy, the first sector-wide strategy of its kind. Since then, the industry’s commitments to reducing its environmental impact have evolved as targets have been met and exceeded by the work and investment of companies throughout the sector. Most recently, the SWA revealed that the industry has more than halved its greenhouse gas emissions since 2008, has increased its use of non-fossil fuels from 3% to 39%, and has improved its energy efficiency by 13% (up from 7.9% in 2018).

The SWA recently became Scotland’s first trade association, and the UK’s first food and drink trade association, to be recognised as a Race to Zero partner in the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow. The partnership, which was approved by the UN High Level Climate Action Champions, recognises the Scotch Whisky industry’s commitment to robust net zero criteria.

In 2021, the SWA launched a new Sustainability Strategy, committing the industry to reach net zero emissions in its operations by 2040. The strategy also includes targets for all new packaging to be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, to ensure that all companies are within a responsible water use range by 2025, and to play its part in restoring and conserving Scotland’s peatlands. The Scotch Whisky industry has committed to working with government and stakeholders to meet these ambitious targets, issuing annual progress reports to show what has been achieved, and what still needs to be done.

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