Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 18:00 UK

Scotch whisky pledges to go green

Bottles of whisky
The industry has pledged to meet its target by 2050

Scotch whisky firms have pledged to cut their use of fossil fuels by 80% over the next 40 years under the first industry-wide environmental strategy.

The industry said it would mean an annual saving by 2050 of more than 750,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

This would be the equivalent of taking more than 235,000 cars off Scotland's roads, it claimed.

The strategy has been welcomed by Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead.

The Scotch Whisky Association, which spent two years formulating the strategy, said cutting the reliance on fossil fuels was only one of a number of tough industry-wide targets.

The good news is that we are making more whisky but already using less energy
Gavin Hewitt
Scotch Whisky Association

These will include a significant reduction in the average weight of packaging used, the elimination of sending waste from packaging operations to landfill sites, a commitment to source future whisky casks only from sustainable oak forests, and to maintain the highest standards of water use and discharge management.

Fossil fuel use will be reduced by improving operational efficiency and investment in new technology, with an emphasis on renewable sources of energy.

Targets have been set in two phases, 2020 and 2050, and the industry said it would publish its achievements annually to show what progress had been made.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "Today's launch of our first industry-wide environmental strategy is a bold move by distillers. We believe it demonstrates our commitment to securing Scotch whisky's future, addressing issues of the environment and the economy.

"Investment of over £100m has been approved in environment-related improvements over the last 18 months alone. The good news is that we are making more whisky but already using less energy."

He said distillers planned to work closely with their supply chain in order to jointly reduce the impact on the environment.

Mr Lochhead praised whisky producers for being the first industry in Scotland to commit to the climate change targets set by the Scottish Government for 2050.

'Real benefit'

"The future of Scotland's iconic whisky industry relies on our equally iconic and prestigious environment and the industry is ahead of the game with this pioneering strategy. If delivered fully, these commitments will be of real benefit to our environment," he said.

Richard Dixon, director of environmental group WWF Scotland, also welcomed the launch of the strategy.

He said: "Scotch whisky is world renowned and we welcome plans to reduce the environmental footprint of each and every dram. We particularly welcome the fact that they have set themselves targets to reduce their impact.

"Since the whisky industry relies on Scotland's clean environment for its main ingredients it is important the industry takes steps to reduce its potential impacts.

"As the whisky industry learns more about the total impacts of its activities we expect to see the targets being raised in a number of key areas."

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