Business in the Community members Diageo and Encirc have collaborated on a trial to make the most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottles ever.
Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol, with a collection of over 200 brands, employs over 27,000 people, and has been a member of Business in the Community (BITC) since 2007. Part of the Vidrala Group, Encirc was founded in 1998 and is a manufacturer and supplier of glass containers based across three sites in England, Northern Ireland and Italy. Each year it produces more than 4 billion glass containers for leading global brands. Encirc has been a member of BITC since 2018.
Both businesses are committed to doing things sustainably and finding opportunities to innovate in a climate-positive manner. Diageo has implemented a 10-year action plan to help create a more inclusive and sustainable world, called ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’. Amongst the targets involved in this plan, three relate directly to climate-positive action: preserve water for life; accelerate to a low carbon world, and become sustainable by design. Encirc is committed to being a forward-thinking manufacturer in a socially and environmentally conscious world. Its ethos is underpinned by six key values, including sustainability, innovation and continuous improvement, and collaboration.
The collaboration between Diageo and Encirc to reduce the carbon footprint of glass bottle-making processes demonstrates these commitments in action. The members worked with leading industry research and technology body Glass Futures to use waste-based biofuel-powered furnaces in the production of glass bottles for the Black & White Scotch whisky brand. In a trial, the three organisations produced 173,000 bottles of Black & White with a near 90% reduction in carbon emissions. The trial used 100% recycled glass, making this batch the most environmentally friendly ever produced for a Scotch whisky brand.
We are committed to creating a sustainable future for our business and that includes looking for innovative new ways to make our bottles and packaging that reduces the carbon footprint of our products.
John Aird, Senior Packaging Technologist at Diageo
Recognising the opportunity for further reductions to its environmental impact, Diageo is working to develop and scale the trial for future production, which it hopes will represent a significant step forward in making its grain-to-glass supply chain more sustainable. This project forms part of the UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Energy Innovation Programme, exploring the most effective routes to using low carbon fuels in glass manufacture processes.
“We are committed to creating a sustainable future for our business and that includes looking for innovative new ways to make our bottles and packaging that reduces the carbon footprint of our products,” says John Aird, Senior Packaging Technologist at Diageo. “This trial is just a first step in the journey to decarbonise this aspect of our supply chain and we still have a long way to go, but we are delighted with the results of the collaboration and the platform it creates for future innovation.”
Reflecting further on the collaboration, Fiacre O’Donnell, Director of Sustainability at Vidrala says “The results we’re seeing from this biofuel trial are truly remarkable and paint a very bright and sustainable future for our industry. These ultra-low-CO2 containers we’re making are being produced for some of the biggest names in the drinks industry, showing how united we all are in our quest for total sustainability.”
Adrian Curry, Managing Director at Encirc, suggests that the success of this trial can act as a leading light for others in the industry. “This is a truly momentous occasion for glass,” Adrian says, “we have set the standard globally with this trial and now the glass industry needs to work towards realising what we’ve proved is possible. We now know that glass can be the most sustainable of all packaging types and must all work together to ensure that happens.”
How responsible businesses can act on the climate crisis
BITC works closely with members to help them take positive climate action that not only supports net zero carbon ambitions, but also drives improvements in supply chain and procurement practice, and employee productivity and motivation by enabling colleagues to connect with nature.
Working with BITC has been fantastic for us as sustainability is at our core, and we believe that collaboration and innovation are key to tackling the climate crisis.
BITC shares many of the same goals as Encirc and together we can build back responsibly
Fiacre O’Donnell, Director of Sustainability, Vidrala.
As BITC members and other responsible businesses build towards COP26, taking place in Glasgow in November, BITC is clear that leadership from businesses can help deliver effective solutions to the climate crisis.