Diageo fails to reach its own pollution targets

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Diageo made £3bn in profit this year, its annual results said
Diageo made £3bn in profit this year, its annual results said

Related tags Pollution Water Recycling

Diageo has significantly missed seven of its 10 pollution reduction targets, the £11bn drinks giant has admitted in its annual report.

The international firm, which recorded profits of £3bn this year, manufactures 24 Scottish whisky brands and owns Guinness, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan and the Irish cream brand Baileys.

Diageo set its pollution reduction targets in 2008 (see table below), which included commitments to reduce waste water pollution by 60%, carbon emissions by 50% and cut waste to landfill by 100%.

However, the British-based firm managed only to reduce its water pollution by 3%, its carbon emissions by 33% and cut its waste to landfill by 85%.

Cut water waste

Diageo’s global brands

  • Johnnie Walker
  • Smirnoff
  • Captain Morgan
  • Baileys
  • Tanqueray
  • Guinness

The drinks manufacturer also missed targets to cut water waste, reduce packing waste, increase recycled content and make its packaging 100% recyclable. However, it met its target to improve water efficiency by 30%.

Diageo’s Cameronbridge grain distillery in Fife had been cited as one of the firm’s most-polluting facilities and had some of the highest industrial emissions in Scotland, according to local press reports.

As a result of firm’s poor environmental performance and increased pollution at Cameronbridge, the clean image of Scotch whisky was being damaged, environmentalists claimed.

“It is supremely ironic that a company which trades on the clean image of the water it uses continues to be a major polluter of that very water, and has failed so miserably to meets its own clean-up targets,” ​Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon told the Herald Scotland.

However, Diageo was investing over £100M into renewable energy projects at its distilleries in Scotland, its sustainability director David Croft said.

‘Major acquisitions’

“Overall, we have significantly reduced our impact on the environment over a period when we have also grown our business with major acquisitions and increased production volumes,” ​he added.

Diageo remained committed to building on the progress it had already made and had set itself new “industry-leading” ​goals to achieve by 2020, which reflected the company’s plans to reduce its impact on the environment, Croft claimed.

Meanwhile, Diageo’s annual report showed the manufacturer’s net sales had risen from £10.2bn in 2014 to £10.8bn this year. Profits dipped slightly from £3.1bn in 2014 to £3.06bn this year.

The firm’s chairman, Dr Franz Humer, said: “In a volatile global environment, our commitment to being one of the best performing, most-trusted and respected consumer products companies is as strong as ever.

“We are more focused than ever on managing cost and delivering cash … over the past two years, we have taken the necessary steps to strengthen Diageo to position our company and drive sustainable growth and value.”

Reduction area



Waste water pollution



Carbon emissions



Waste to landfill



Water waste



Packaging weight



Increase recycled content



Increase recyclable packaging



Related topics Drinks

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