Diageo aces its 2015-2020 sustainability and responsibility goals with myriad of achievements

UK – Global beverage company, Diageo has announced the successful conclusion and achievement of its highly ambitious 2020 Sustainability and Responsibility goals.

Originally set in 2008, and refreshed in 2015, the goals were among the most ambitious and stretching in the industry.

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The 2020 targets were selected to align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and designed to cover the company’s three main focus areas: reducing environmental impact, building thriving communities and promoting positive drinking.

The maker of Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness was among the first companies to set its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets in line with the principles of the Science Based Targets initiative and an early adopter of absolute, rather than relative, GHG reduction targets.

In its 2020 goals, they have managed to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from direct operations by 509,000 metric tonnes, delivering on its commitment to reduce absolute emissions by 50%.

Also, it has reduced emissions by over a third (33.7%) across its total value chain, going beyond its original 30% target.

On water stewardship, the company has improved water efficiency by 46%.  In water stressed areas, the company replenished 100% of the water used in its final product.

In 2019 Diageo was appointed a Global Goals Business Avenger as the business champion for UN Sustainable Development Goal 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.

This financial year, Diageo has replenished 1,400,000m3 of water, the equivalent of 560 Olympic sized swimming pools, in water-stressed areas.

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They have also supported more than 250,000 people through its projects focused on clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in 2020.

Among the achievements includes attainment of over 99.5% of its packaging being recyclable and achieved 45% recycled content in its packaging.

Diageo also achieved zero waste to landfill in all operational sites and offices.

They have empowered 435,000 women to date through its community programmes and championed diversity such that 39% of leadership positions are now held by women, going beyond its original target of 35%.

Diageo has also long 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 this significant progress, however, Diageo has not quite achieved all its ambitious goals.

As reported in 2019, it has not met the full improvement it wanted in the quality of wastewater it discharges, with 90% of its operational sites meeting the stretching target (noting it remains within consent levels granted by local regulators).

However, Diageo did deliver a 46.3% improvement in water use efficiency against a target of 50%, only missing the goal due to delayed water recycling projects in Africa and lower packaged volumes in some markets both as a direct result of COVID-19 impacts.

It has also found reducing the overall weight of its packaging by 15% more challenging than expected, still delivering a strong 11% reduction with the starting point on lightweight glass making it a tough challenge.

Having delivered the goal of 80% of raw materials sourced locally in Africa 2 years early it slipped to 79% over the last quarter of the year, as a direct result of COVID-19 volume impacts.

Ewan Andrew, 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.”

In the coming months, the company will also be announcing a new set of targets to help further support in the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals over the critical decade to 2030.

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