SWA Pledge for environment

The Scotch Whisky Association
United Kingdom
2009 > Ongoing
#Packaging #WaterUse #C02Emissions #EnergyEfficiency


In 2009, SWA launched the Scotch Whisky Industry Environmental Strategy with tough targets and detailed commitments to stakeholders.
The aim is to place a strong environmental performance at the heart of industry decision making and to drive further change in the way producers act, invest and secure supplies.
The Strategy was revised in 2016 with specific targets for 2020.


Scotch Whisky makes a vital contribution to the Scottish economy – adding around £5 billion each year to the UK economy and supporting 40,000 jobs in Scotland.

The Scotch Whisky industry is committed to continuing the sustainable production of its products. Scotch Whisky is a natural product closely tied to its environment and rural communities across Scotland. Environmental sustainability is therefore one of the industry’s and Association's top priorities. Building on our original 2009 sector environmental strategy, the industry refreshed its ambitious and wide-reaching Environmental Strategy in September 2016. The strategy displays a real commitment from members to lessening the environmental footprint of the sector and confirms the industry aims to move beyond compliance to deliver sustainability.

Specific targets for 2020:

  • Source 20% of primary energy from non-fossil fuels.
  • Improve energy efficiency by 7.6%.
  • Reduce by 10% the average unit weight of packaging material.
  • Improve distilling water efficiency by 10%.
  • No general waste from Scotch Whisky operations to landfill.
  • 40% of product packaging to be from recycled materials.
  • All packaging will be reusable or recyclable.

The Environmental Strategy is already moving the majority of SWA members in a beyond compliance direction. Building on these ambitions, SWA is proud to be the first Sector Plan to be launched by the Environmental Regulator (SEPA). The plan which was published in October 2018 sets out how the sector will work collaboratively with SEPA to support their One Planet Prosperity ambitions (link).


SWA members and wider supply chain
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
Environmental NGOs
Government bodies and agencies


Industry performance 2009-2016 shows:
Greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 22% since 2008. This means with global exports of £4.37bn, the Scotch Whisky industry accounts for 20% of all UK food and drink exports, but only accounts for 10.7% of the energy use.
The Scotch Whisky industry has surpassed its 2020 target and achieved 21% of primary energy use from non-fossil fuel sources, up from 3% in 2008.
Net water use has fallen by 29% since the 2012 base year. This means that since 2012, the equivalent of over 1,800 Olympic sized swimming pools has been saved.
The recycled content of the industry's product packaging stood at 44% in 2016, beating the 2020 goal that 40% of product packaging will be made from recyclable materials.

Measurement & evaluation

Annual reports & Cases Studies have been drafted over the years to describe the actions undertaken by the Scotch whisky distillers to meet the 2020 targets and beyond.
Topics included in these reports includes packaging, renewable energy, utilization of our by-products as well as catchment management.
Read details here.





Scotch Environmental Strategy - Key Stakeholder Film

Photo gallery


final_2018_environmental_strategy_report.pdf (pdf - 1.17 Mo)