Diageo, one of the world’s largest producers of spirits and beers, has cut greenhouse gas emissions from its direct operations by 509,000 metric tonnes, delivering on its commitment to reduce absolute emissions by 50%.
This week, the maker of Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness announced the completion of the majority of its 2020 Sustainability and Responsibility goals.
The 2020 targets, which aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, were designed to cover Diageo’s three main focus areas: reducing environmental impact, building thriving communities and promoting positive drinking. These were originally set in 2008 and refreshed in 2015.
In addition to halving its greenhouse gas emissions across its direct operations, Diageo improved its water efficiency by 46% and achieved zero waste to landfill at all production sites and offices. The company also reduced emissions by over a third across its total value chain which is beyond its original 30% target.
Over 99.5% of Diageo’s packaging is now recyclable, while 45% of its packaging is made from recycled content.
With 435,000 women reportedly becoming empowered through its community programmes, Diageo claims that 39% of its leadership positions are now held by women.
Diageo said it has also supported the World Health Organization’s goal of reducing harmful drinking by 10% across the world by 2025 and has set itself stretching targets to reach in this area over the next five years. So far, it has reached over 229 million people with moderation messages via its brands and helped educate 1 million young people, parents and teachers about the dangers of underage drinking.
Despite its progress on sustainability milestones, Diageo has not quite achieved all its goals, such as not meeting the full improvement it wanted in the quality of wastewater it discharges. It has also found reducing the overall weight of its packaging by 15% more challenging than expected, but has delivered a 11% reduction.
Ewan Andrew, Diageo’s chief sustainability officer, said: “As we close our 2020 targets, we are incredibly proud of the progress we have made and grateful to our employees and selected partners who have helped us deliver transformational progress. Through our programmes, we have made a positive impact on millions of people, in communities all around the world.
“We have been agile and moved quickly to adapt to the global changes around us. We are excited about the decade of action ahead and will continue to lead the way, driven by the knowledge that our future success is intertwined with the success of the living planet around us.”
Reflections from the last five years
Reflecting on the last five years working towards its sustainability goals, the company said it has recognised the importance of linking sustainability to core business strategies and how important it is to have total alignment within the business and strong sponsorship from leaders, as well as effective execution monitoring.
In addition, it said that inclusion and gender equality should be built into every community programme, rather than treated as a separate objective.
“Early investment in infrastructure and a process of continuous improvement are key to success,” the company noted.
In the coming months, the company will announce a new set of targets to help further support in the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals over the critical decade to 2030.