The Scotch whisky industry has published a new sustainability strategy

The new strategy, announced in January, commits the Scotch whisky sector to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2040 and drastically reduce the negative environmental impact of the industry elsewhere. It covers four main themes (tackling climate change, responsible water use, transition to a circular economy, caring for the earth) and commits industry to work with supply chain partners and government to achieve the common goal of sustainable development across the globe. the production chain.

The Scotch whisky industry's commitments under the new sustainability strategy include:

·        Achieving net zero emissions by 2040 (five years ahead of the Scottish Government's target on this and 10 years ahead of the UK Government's target);

·        All new product packaging will be reusable, recyclable and compostable;

·        A commitment to play an active role in wider protection and restoration of Scotland's peatlands by 2035;

·        Pursuing water efficiency efforts.

The first environmental strategy for the Scotch whisky industry was introduced in 2009, being the first of its kind to cover the entire sector. The industry has since made significant progress in meeting its original goals, including:

·        Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 34%;

·        28% of the primary energy currently comes from non-fossil sources, compared with 3% in 2008;

·        The efficiency of using water for the production of Scotch whisky improved by 22%;

·        Only 1% of waste is now landfilled, 75% less than in 2016.

- The Scotch Whisky industry’s new Sustainability Strategy is both ambitious and achievable. A huge amount of work has gone into its development and is now going into its implementation.  This is a great example of collaboration within our industry and with other organisations in our supply chain, the energy sector and in government – said Karen Betts, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association.  - All of this is close to distillers’ hearts because we know we must protect the natural environment.  We depend on natural resources – water, cereals, yeast – to make Scotch Whisky.  Scotch has been produced for 500 years and we want to ensure that it is being produced for generations to come. We are also proud that COP26 will be hosted in Glasgow later this year.  The eyes of the world will be on Scotland, and on ours and others’ efforts to reverse the damaging impacts of climate change. We are looking forward to showcasing our industry’s contribution to global efforts to ensure our generation can arrest climate change and secure the future of our planet – Betts added.

- Whisky production is part of our industrial and cultural landscape, and is a key part of our identity as a nation. It is vital for prosperity and employment, especially in rural and island communities. I welcome the Scotch Whisky Association’s new Sustainability Strategy, which aims to pave the way for the sector to reach net zero by 2040, positioning efforts alongside our national ambition to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change – said Roseanna Cunningham, Environment and Climate Change Secretary.

- Every industry needs to play its part in cutting carbon emissions and Build Back Greener and I’m delighted to see the Scotch Whisky Association being a driving force in encouraging their globally influential industry to innovate and reach net zero emissions.  We are already helping Scotch Whisky take a lead on low-carbon production with £10 million investment and it’s fantastic that this new strategy is taking that even further by helping one of our most cherished industries also become one of our greenest - said Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Energy Minister.

To learn more and to read the entire strategy elements, visit


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