January 8, 2018

Scotch Whisky Association – an industry committed to sustainability

Scotch Whisky is very much a product of its natural environment. The iconic product, recognised globally, is made from only three raw materials of water, cereals and yeast. To protect valuable resources, the Scotch Whisky industry – lead by the Scotch Whisky Association – has always believed in sustainability and takes its environmental responsibilities seriously.

Environmental Strategy

In 2009, the industry launched its far-reaching Environmental Strategy – the first sector-wide initiative of its kind. This award-winning strategy, which set ambitious voluntary targets, has driven many industry achievements of which we are proud.

But we are well aware that the world is constantly evolving and therefore the Industry Strategy must do the same. That’s why we decided to check our ambitions to ensure they are in line with stakeholder expectations.

We worked intensively within the Scotch Whisky industry and with other stakeholders, such as environmental organisations and regulators, to refresh the strategy and make it fit-for-purpose for many years to come.

The refreshed Industry Environmental Strategy – unveiled in autumn 2016 – sets even more ambitious voluntary targets, from responsible water use to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and has been broadened to reflect changing business operations. It is collective, building on the work of individual Scotch Whisky producers. And it relies on strong support from governments and supply chains to deliver on its ambitions.

Strategy themes

The strategy now has four themes with targets for 2020 and 2050:

Reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050 some 80% of primary energy will come from non-fossil fuels, such as anaerobic digestion and solar power. Energy efficiency will be improved by 7.6% by 2020, in line with the Climate Change Agreement.

Responsible water use. Effective water use is a priority for the industry, given the reliance on a pristine supply. Distilling water efficiency will improve by 10% by 2020.

Embracing a ‘circular economy’ in the industry supply chain. The aim is to use resources for as long as possible, extracting maximum value from them and recovering and regenerating materials.

Sustainable land use. The goal is to ensure a secure supply of high-quality raw materials, namely cereals and wood. This includes encouraging the use of wood sourced from sustainable oak forests to manufacture new casks.

We have also put in place a number of measures to ensure we deliver the programme successfully. We will, for example influence supply chains to help us minimise the industry’s environmental impact; we’ll collaborate closely with local communities, regulators and other stakeholders. As well as discussing industry progress with stakeholders every year, we will review the commitments at least once every five years.

We’re committed to ensuring that we work within a natural environment that allows us to continue to produce a world-class product for the next 500 years and more.

Find out more at