Diageo is investing £180 million in improving the sustainability of its African operations, in what the company says is its “largest environmental investment in a decade.”
The drinks firm has announced how it is investing in renewable energy at 11 of its brewing sites in seven countries.
New infrastructure will be built at Diageo plants in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
The investment will help breweries switch to renewable energy and includes plans to develop solar energy and biomass boilers, according to last week’s announcement.
Ivan Menezes, CEO at Diageo, said: “We believe this is one of the biggest single investments in addressing climate change issues across multiple sub Saharan markets. It demonstrates the strength of our commitment to pioneer grain-to-glass sustainability and to positively impact the communities in which we live and work.”
He added: “We have a responsibility as a local manufacturer and employer in Africa to grow our business sustainably – creating shared value – and this significant investment continues our work to provide sustainable solutions for our local supply chains.”
The firm has committed to using green energy at three breweries in Kenya and Uganda by replacing fossil fuels with biomass boilers.
Using this form of energy, fueled by wood chippings and rice husks, will reduce the company’s carbon emissions by around 42,000 tonnes a year.
Solar panels will be fitted at the firm’s breweries in Africa and will generate up to 20% of their electricity demand.
The plan also aims to reduce water consumption through water recovery, purification and reuse facilities across five breweries across Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. This is expected to save more than two billion cubic litres of water each year, according to Diageo.
The major new investment comes amid progress being made in procurement, with the firm announcing in December 2018 that it had almost reached its target of sourcing 80% of raw materials locally in Africa. The target is part of Diageo's Sustainable Agricultural Strategy, which is focussed on “creating supply chains that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.”
The moves being made in Africa are part of the company’s global ambition to meet environmental targets set for 2020, in alignment with the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs).
It aims to achieve a 50% improvement in water use efficiency, halve its greenhouse gas emissions, have zero waste to landfill and 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2020.
Over the past decade, “progress has included a 45% reduction in carbon emissions and a 44% reduction in water consumption,” Menezes said.