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Wider environment

The complexity and variety of the natural world is something to celebrate. We want to support, not harm, the biodiversity of the places where we work – and to minimise all our impacts on the wider environment.

Our approach

Our distilleries, breweries, wineries and other sites are all surrounded by complex eco-systems which support a wide range of plant and animal species. We are committed to safeguarding biodiversity around our operations, with a particular emphasis on the impacts caused by the use of our main ingredient, water.

Alcohol production is also associated with a range of air emissions which can deplete ozone or contribute to acid rain, although these impacts are relatively small for our business. Spills and other incidents can introduce chemicals – usually alcohol – into the environment. We are measuring and reporting these emissions and spills, mitigating the risks, and reducing their impact wherever possible.

Addressing our impacts on biodiversity

Healthy eco-systems support more than the diverse species that comprise them – they are often essential to the local economy, supporting agriculture and providing a resource to communities. While we have a responsibility to the environment and the communities we share it with to preserve and support biodiversity, we are also, as a user of natural ingredients in our products, dependent on it for the sustainability of our business.

Many of the programmes described in other sections of this report create environmental improvements that support biodiversity. Overall water use, water abstraction and air emissions all generate impacts on biodiversity. As well as our own initiatives around biodiversity, we have set out what we expect from our suppliers in our Sustainable Agricultural Sourcing Guidelines and Partnering with Suppliers standard.

Water and biodiversity

Our overall water strategy focuses on increasing the efficiency of water use and reducing pollution globally, with a specific emphasis on reducing water wasted in water-stressed areas. The use of water in areas that are water-stressed has particular consequences for biodiversity.

We have identified 14 water sources used by our operations as being sensitive. Three of our production sites are associated with wetlands designated as being of international importance under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, or “Ramsar Convention”, an inter-governmental treaty agreed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. They are:

  • Kumasi Kaase, Ghana, in relation to the Owabi Nature Reserve
  • Kampala International Distillers Uganda, Uganda, in relation to Lutembe Bay
  • Kampala Uganda Breweries Limited, Uganda, in relation to Mabamba Bay.

In each of these protected wetlands we are monitoring the local issues specific to our sites, and implementing innovative technologies which improve water efficiency and improve the quality of wastewater. We are also exploring the potential for collaboration with other industries and stakeholders to encourage the spread of more effective management practices.

The water that leaves our operations also has potential impacts on rivers, lakes, streams and the ocean. Currently we do not have sufficient information to understand our impact fully when it reaches these water bodies but overall we believe it is relatively small. For information on how we deal with effluent, see our reducing water pollution section.

Total water withdrawn by source (1,000s m3)
Region Mains water* Ground
(borehole / well)
Surface water
(river / lake)
North America 1,240 610 579
Europe 4,338 3,894 954
Africa 3,245 6,389 570
Latin America and Caribbean - 761 -
Asia Pacific 266 - 13
Corporate 232 3 -
Diageo (total) 9,321 11,657 2,116

* Data includes 234,000m3 of water given to communities.

Protected areas and threatened species

We have identified 18 operational sites and / or vacant owned land to be near or adjacent to areas designated as having biodiversity value by the United Nations or national conservation lists, with a total area of approximately 15 km2.

Several of our sites are also in or close to the habitats of species that are designated as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). For example our Captain Morgan distillery is sited in St Croix, the US Virgin Islands, where the St Croix ground lizard (ameiva polops), is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. Our winery in Paicines, California, United States, is adjacent to the Pinnacles National Monument, a release site for the Californian condor (gymnogyps californianus), which is on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. In all cases, we are managing these sites and our impacts on them in accordance with our licence conditions and the requirements of local stakeholders.

A full list of sites close to protected areas, and threatened species, to the best of our knowledge is included below.

Sites or owned land adjacent to areas of biodiversity value

Reducing ozone-depleting and other air emissions

We have made significant progress in eliminating ozone-depleting substances from our operations. However, some substances, including HCFCs, are inherent components of equipment and small quantities are emitted through its use and maintenance.

This year, 10,170kg of HCFCs were present in our refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, of which 563kg were emitted. Halons have been almost eliminated from all our manufacturing sites while CFCs are present in extremely small quantities.

HCFCs and CFCs

Other air emissions

The use of fuel and the distillation of alcohol generate emissions which have impacts on the environment. In 2012, we emitted 1.262kt of nitrous oxides (NOx) and 1.313kt of sulphur dioxides (SOx).

NOx and SOx are calculated based on fuel usage and standard emission factors. A small number of sites have NOx and SOx air emissions associated with the roasting and kilning of cereals, used to flavour some of our brands. These emissions are measured but are minimal to our overall total NOx / SOx levels, which remain low compared with background NOx and SOx data.

NOx and SOx emissions by year

Accounting for spills and other incidents

There were three incidents of non-compliance with environmental consents this year, resulting in a total of $68,300 (£48,623) in fines. There were 12 spills or other incidents during the reporting year, totalling approximately 27,000 litres of spilled material.

Our approach to genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Scientific knowledge and public acceptance of GMOs varies between regions and countries. We believe that the government agencies responsible for public health and the environment should guide public policy in these areas.

In general, we aim to use materials that are not genetically modified in the production of our brands. We have a policy of not using genetically modified material for the European domestic and duty-free markets, and currently use very few genetically modified materials in Asia Pacific or Africa. However, this policy cannot be applied in the United States and Canada, where there is a high proportion of genetically modified material in the supply chain.

We comply with all local labelling legislation, including any requirement to identify GMOs. We will continue to monitor and respond to scientific and regulatory developments, as well as to consumer attitudes, and keep our policy under regular review.

Reporting frameworks in this section

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