Diageo to create circular aluminium supply chain

25 May 2023

Drinks firm Diageo has announced partnering with the British Aluminium Consortium for Advanced Alloys (BACALL) to develop a circular economy for aluminium in the UK.

Funding will be provided by Diageo to build a facility capable of supplying enough recycled aluminium to make more than 400m of Guinness and pre-mixed gin and tonics cans, to “significantly reduce” emissions. 

When up and running, the plant will be able to produce hundreds of thousands of tonnes of aluminium sheet.

Crucially, the facility will be an advanced aluminium recycling and manufacturing plant to keep the recycling of aluminium within the UK.

Currently, the only way for the UK to recycle aluminium is by exporting it to the EU, to be processed into can sheet, only for it to be imported back into the UK once the process is complete.

By keeping production in the UK, 95% less energy will be used to produce aluminium sheet compared to traditional production methods.

Diageo president of global supply chain & procurement and chief sustainability officer, Ewan Andrew, said: “We are excited to be a part of a project that will ultimately change the production of aluminium in the UK.”

He added: “We are now seeking to work in partnership with business and government to not only reduce aluminium’s carbon footprint, but also bring this part of the aluminium supply chain back to the UK.”

British Aluminium Consortium for Advanced Alloys non-executive director, David Sneddon, said: “Aluminium is one of the most recyclable materials on the planet – yet the 15bn plus cans made in the UK rely on an energy-intensive supply chain, that requires aluminium to be brought in and out of the country.”

He added: “By sourcing, recycling, manufacturing and supplying aluminium flat-rolled sheets in the UK, we can localise and close the supply chain, providing substantial reductions in carbon emissions. This will help create a more sustainable aluminium industry and will secure the future capacity of ultra-low carbon alloys.”

Brunel University professor of metallurgy, Geoff Scamans, said aluminium supply chains need a “dramatic” overhaul to become sustainable. 

Scamans said: “Aluminium has the potential to be zero carbon, but the entire supply chain needs to see a dramatic reduction in emissions.”

He added: “The UK currently exports much of its aluminium scrap, yet at the same time, imports nearly all aluminium sheet. By changing this, we should see a significant carbon footprint reduction.”

Diageo is one of the world’s largest alcoholic drinks companies, with brands including Guinness, Gordon’s, Baileys and Smirnoff.

☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.

CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates