Waste is produced throughout the lifecycle of our products. While this presents challenges, reducing or reusing waste can offer opportunities for commercial or cost-saving applications.
Landfills have a variety of negative impacts on the environment, ranging from groundwater and surface contamination to biodiversity impacts and the emission of methane, a greenhouse gas. Landfills also affect local communities and are a cost to our business, both directly and in terms of transport and tax.
For these reasons we are committed to eliminating the waste we send to landfill, partly by reducing and reusing our waste in the first place. We focus on reducing waste sent to landfill from our operations, and on designing packaging that our customers can easily recycle. Our waste reduction effort is supported by our GREENiQ employee engagement programme.
Performance against targets
|Target||This year’s performance||Cumulative performance||Achievement
|by 2015||2010 - 2011||2007 – 2011||
|Increase of 91.4%
||Reduction of 44.7%
While we are nearly halfway to our 2015 target, progress slowed considerably this year, with our waste to landfill actually increasing from 13.1kt to 25.1kt. In 2011 we found that certain agricultural by-products from brewing in Nigeria, such as brewer’s yeast and kieselguhr, were being routed to landfill without being recorded, while in previous years this had been recorded. This accounted for over 95% of the increase this year. We have now improved local data management and have plans to reduce significantly the quantity of waste to landfill in 2012, in line with the improvements made at many other sites in 2011.
In many regions our performance has improved and in 2011 there were 14 sites sending no waste to landfill.
Types of non-hazardous waste
Our key waste streams include:
- Organic matter left over from the brewing and distillation process. This is our largest by-product. It consists mainly of draff – the husk residue left when grain has been mashed – and yeast. Generally this waste is converted into animal feed or compost, but it also offers opportunities as a renewable fuel source. Our Roseisle distillery in Scotland, for example, uses draff as a biomass fuel to produce steam for distillation.
- Kieselguhr is a naturally-occurring soft rock that is used for filtration and cannot be re-used. In Nigeria we have invested in cross-filtration technology which would eliminate the need for kieselguhr. If successful, we will pursue this technology elsewhere.
- Labels from returnable bottles. While the glass gets reused, the labels are soaked off and create a heavy pulp that is difficult to dry and dispose of. We are exploring ways of reusing this pulp.
Other waste streams include:
- Damaged packaging
- Sludge from wastewater treatment
- Boiler ash
- Office waste.
We recycle this where possible and where facilities exist, and are looking for ways to reduce our overall waste generation. For materials that can’t be recycled, we look for alternatives and opportunities for reuse.
Types of hazardous waste
Some of our processes employ hazardous materials – such as oils, acids and bases – which are disposed of through the use of specialist contractors. Our use of these materials is subject to government regulations and environmental consents, and it is a top priority for us to act within the terms of these consents.
The majority of hazardous waste, 96%, is reused or recycled in our manufacturing and 4% this year was disposed into landfill. We are also reviewing our packaging to identify materials that potentially pose risk to the environment, such as inks and heavy metals, and removing them where viable alternatives exist. Please see the sustainable packaging section for more information.
Highlights of the year
- Plainfield, Illinois: a particular success story is this packaging site, which now sends no waste to landfill. We expanded our already extensive recycling programme to include sending spent seeds and berries from gin production to a local composting site, eliminating the final 200 tonnes per year to landfill.
- Isipingo, South Africa: this blending and packaging site in South Africa has reduced waste sent to landfill considerably from 7 tonnes of waste a month to 2.1 tonnes. To find out more, read the case study Isipingo goes green.
- ‘Lightweighting’: another way we are reducing waste is by lightening the weight of packaging, or removing materials from our packaging. We use a number of approaches to ‘lightweight’ our products, for example replacing glass with PET (plastic) or using less glass.
Total weight of waste by type and disposal (tonnes)
|Waste by regions* (tonnes)
* all regions represent the waste from production sites, with the exception of ‘corporate sites’ which represent marketing, sales, and other areas of the business such as The Gleneagles Hotel