Diageo, maker of Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness, is celebrating the conclusion of its 2020 sustainability and responsibility goals that have seen its greenhouse gas emissions cut by 50%.

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

On water stewardship, 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.  In total the company has improved water efficiency by 46%.

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

Diageo has also achieved a zero waste to landfill goal at all production sites and offices.  Over 99.5% of its packaging is now recyclable.

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).

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 decade to 2030.

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