Supply chain efficiency: Unboxing premium scotch to reduce waste

European Union
2023 > Ongoing
#ImpEnvSustainability #Packaging


To make their packaging sustainable.

To reduce packaging waste


A little over 150 years ago, Johnnie Walker had a packaging problem.  Too many bottles were being broken in transit over choppy seas.  The solution?  The iconic ‘square’ bottle: packaging that could be stacked safely and efficiently.  Today, Diageo continues that tradition of finding new ways to solve problems.  In the modern world, the task is different.  The packaging is already robust; now it must become sustainable too.

Packaging is synonymous with waste, and too many industries have adopted a ‘take-make-dispose’ model.  Diageo’s is to change this.  They believe convenience should not come at the cost of our natural resources.

At the beginning of fiscal 23, they began a thorough review of our whiskies and came to the conclusion that not only could the change the packaging, but in some places, we could get rid of it altogether.  This is why they started work to phase out cardboard gift boxes across a selection of products in our premium scotch portfolio.  

Solving a problem at scale: The next step was to bring a team together.  With the sheer scale of the project, and the range of packaging across different markets, Diageo gathered a group with global and cross-functional expertise.  The taskforce worked to scope out the project, agree timelines, communicate to customers and make sure every market was aligned.  To minimise disruption to our supply chain, the project was initially rolled out across selected markets, testing the consumer response and assessing if waste could really be reduced.

After a successful test, Diageo expanded the project internationally.  The first phase was delivered over fiscal 23, and new markets are planned in fiscal 24.

The work is a continuation of Diageo’s ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ ESG action plan to help create a more inclusive and sustainable world.


In fiscal 23, this workstream resulted in:

  • 141 million cardboard boxes eliminated from the supply chain.
  • 5,520 tonnes reduction in carbon emissions.


Photo gallery