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Scotch distillery reduces carbon footprint with biomass boiler

By John Dewar & Sons | July 22, 2015

The Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery in the heart of the Scottish Highlands is known for its rich tradition of producing some of the world’s finest Scotch—while at the same time, setting industry-leading sustainability standards.

The late 2014 installment of a biomass boiler at the Aberfeldy site cut the carbon footprint at the home of Dewar’s Blended Scotch whisky by a whopping 90 percent.

“Traditionally, distilleries are heavy users of fossil fuel—and that’s not good for the environment,” says Iain Lochhead, operations director at John Dewar & Sons Ltd., part of the Bacardi group of companies. “At John Dewar & Sons, we had many ideas for reducing fossil fuel usage and explored several options, but we settled on a biomass boiler.”

“Investment in biomass marks a sea change in the industry approach,” says David Williamson, public affairs and communications director for the Scotch Whisky Association. “Moving away from boilers that use heavy fuel oil—to more efficient wood pellets—helps reduce energy costs and lower emissions into the environment. So we develop the industry as we nurture local surroundings and deliver a sustainable industry.”

“We estimate that under the current production schedule, we will reduce our carbon emissions from fossil fuel sources by up to six thousand tons per year of carbon dioxide at the Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery,” adds Lochhead.

As part of the Bacardi group of companies, John Dewar & Sons honors the spirit of sustainability with these benchmarks at its five malt distilleries:

- 34 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2006
- 46 percent reduction in water use since 2009
- 30 percent reduction of waste to landfill since 2010

The biomass project is part of a broad scope of sustainability initiatives for John Dewar & Sons, producers of Dewar’s Blended Scotch whisky, William Lawson’s Blended Scotch whisky and the single malt brands of Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Graigellachie, The Deveron and Royal Brackla.

Since 2006, when Bacardi began tracking its global impact on the environment, it has reduced nonrenewable energy use by nearly 28 percent and decreased its greenhouse gas emissions from production by more than 28 percent. Building on current programs and efficiencies that reduce its environmental impacts, the Bacardi Limited “Good Spirited” sustainability program sets specific goals in three areas to help reach its vision of a net zero impact:

1. Responsible Sourcing: Bacardi strives to obtain all raw materials and packaging from sustainably sourced, renewable or recycled materials while maintaining or enhancing the economic status of growers and suppliers. By 2017, the goal is to obtain 40 percent of the sugarcane-derived products used to make its rum from certified, sustainable sources—and 100 percent by 2022. This pledge from Bacardi is an industry first.

2. Global Packaging: Bacardi commits to use eco-design to craft sustainability into its brand packaging and point-of-sale materials. By 2017, Bacardi plans to reduce the weight of its packaging by 10 percent and achieve 15 percent by 2022.

3. Operational Efficiencies: Bacardi continues to focus on reducing water use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with a 2017 goal to cut water use by 55 percent and GHG emissions by 50 percent. In addition, Bacardi aims to eliminate landfill waste at all of its production sites by 2022.