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Diageo fails to meet all but one 2015 sustainability target

Diageo says it has made “strong progress” on its 2015 Sustainability and Responsibility targets, yet failed to meet all but one of its objectives.

Diageo has faced “challenges” at its Cameronbridge Distillery in Scotland, where it is building a bioenergy plant

Set by the company in 2008, the targets addressed water use, carbon emissions and waste. According to the company, these were “primarily absolute targets” set to acknowledge that the business should reduce existing impacts compared to a 2007 baseline, “regardless of future size”.

Water use

The only target Diageo met was its water efficiency objective: since 2007, this has increased by 32.2% against a 30% target (see table below).

Despite missing its 50% waste water reduction at stressed sites target, Diageo did make significant progress and cut wastage by 45.3%.

However the company performed dismally against its target to reduce the polluting power of wastewater by 60%, only managing a 3.1% reduction. Diageo attributes this to the “challenging” application of a bioenergy plant at the Cameronbridge Distillery in Scotland, while noting that polluting power at its operations in Africa fell by “around 90%”.

Emissions and waste

Progress was made in terms of cutting carbon emissions, however the achieved 33.3% reduction since 2007 falls well short of the 50% target.

Diageo's environmental performance in detail, from the company's 2015 annual report.
Diageo’s environmental performance in detail, from the company’s 2015 annual report.

85.5% of waste to landfill has been eliminated against a 100% target, while overall packaging weight has been reduced by 7%, versus the 10% objective.

David Croft, global sustainable development director, said:“Overall we are proud of the progress made, and what we have achieved since we set our 2015 targets back in 2007.

“We have significantly reduced our overall impact on the environment over a period of time when we have also grown our business with increased production volumes and through significant acquisitions. Over the last eight years, we have incorporated those new acquisitions into our environmental programme, which often makes it more challenging to maintain our originally desired progress towards our targets.

“As a result, however, our operating standards now have greater reach, increasing the potential scale of their impact in the long term. We have also recognised the need for broader partnerships to help scale up our community programmes. We aim to develop these moving forward, increasing the impact we have already delivered.”

Targets to 2020

Diageo announced a series of 2020 targets in December 2014 in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals: create a positive role for alcohol in society through initiatives which impact misuse; building communities to equip people, particularly women, with skills and resources to build a better future; and reducing Diageo’s environmental impact by making products and business operations more sustainable.

“We remain committed to building on our progress and have set ourselves some ambitious goals to achieve by 2020,” Croft continued.

“Our ongoing investment in our business, our breweries and distilleries, our supply network and the communities where we work, continues to improve our environmental and social performance, and will support our progress towards these 2020 targets and beyond.”

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