THE Scotch Whisky industry has launched a new sustainability strategy which commits the sector to reaching net-zero emissions in its operations by 2040 and to reducing dramatically the environmental impact of Scotland’s national drink in other areas.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) says the revised strategy builds on progress made over the last decade which has seen distillers work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than one-third.

It covers four main themes – tackling climate change, using water responsibly, moving to a circular economy and caring for the land – and commits the industry to working with supply chain partners and government towards a goal of a sustainable dram from grain to glass.

Launching the strategy, the SWA has also set its sights on this year’s COP26 conference in Glasgow, where the industry plans to showcase its environmental work in the fight against climate change.

Commitments in the strategy include the industry achieving net-zero emissions in its own operations by 2040, five years ahead of the Scottish Government’s target and 10 years ahead of the UK Government’s. It says all new product packaging will be reusable, recyclable and compostable by 2025. The sector says it will play an active role in the wider conservation and restoration of Scotland’s peatland to deliver environmental benefits for the common good by 2035.

It will also continue to use water efficiently, ensuring all producers are within a responsible water use range by 2025.

The industry’s first environment strategy was launched in 2009 and was the first of its kind to cover an entire sector.

Since then, the SWA says, it has made significant progress against its original targets, including a 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and obtaining 28% of primary energy use from non-fossil fuel sources, up from 3% in 2008.

Efficiency of water use in Scotch Whisky production has improved by 22% and just 1% of waste is now being sent to landfill, down 75% since 2016.

SWA chief executive Karen Betts said: “The Scotch Whisky industry’s new sustainability strategy is both ambitious and achievable. A huge amount of work has gone into its development. This is a great example of collaboration within our industry and with other organisations in our supply chain, the energy sector and in government.”