Johnnie Walker commits to better packaging as part of new sustainability initiative

Johnnie Walker has launched its The Next Steps initiative, its new sustainability drive, putting the company’s focus on a series of environmental commitments.  

The initiative is a wide-ranging action plan that will see the whisky maker become more sustainable by design from ‘grain to glass’. The initiative is also part of the brand’s ongoing efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, restore natural landscapes and reinvent how its whisky is made, distributed and enjoyed in every corner of the world.

Included in the programme is a series of environmental commitments which, the company said by 2030, will ensure: 100 per cent of Johnnie Walker whisky production is net-zero carbon; 100 per cent of Johnnie Walker distilleries harness renewable energy; all packaging will be recyclable, reusable or compostable; investment in projects to restore peatland and plant and protect trees in Scotland; and a reinvention of the drinking experience to be more sustainable.

“When we look at the world around us, it’s clear that we all have a role to play in protecting the planet and its resources. We can either see what’s happening and choose to do nothing or we can keep walking, taking every step we can to reduce our impact. We believe there is only one choice to make,” Johnnie Walker global brand director Julie Bramham said.

Specifically, Johnnie Walker has also committed to:

  • Reduce its environmental impact by increasing the recycled content in all its packaging material: including a minimum of 60 per cent recycled glass in its core range bottles by 2025, which the brand predicts will use 13,000 fewer tonnes of carbon every year; 100 per cent of the plastic used in its packaging will also be made from recycled content.
  • Make its glass bottles up to 25 per cent lighter.
  • Ensure all packaging material, including secondary packaging such as gift boxes, will be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2030. The brand predicts that all of its actions to reduce its packaging will reduce its carbon footprint by 15 per cent – equivalent to 4,200 return flights from Edinburgh to Sydney.
  • Ensure that by 2030, the production of Johnnie Walker will use 20 per cent less water. This annual saving could be equivalent to 76 Olympic sized swimming pools.
  • Work with customers and suppliers to continue to find and implement more sustainable alternatives for promotional materials and bar ware – with a focus on recyclability or reusability.
  • Continue to lead the way in terms of ‘green tourism’ with the goal of having all of its Scotch whisky visitor experiences Green Tourism Gold certified.
  • Working with and supporting farmers and grain suppliers to help them implement regenerative farm practices and become verified against the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform’s widely-recognised Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA).
  • Support local initiatives to help preserve our natural landscapes. In Chile, the brand has partnered with Tu Mejor Huella, to protect and restore 5,000 square meters of Torres del Paine National Park, one of Patagonia’s most iconic landscapes.

The new programme will also be spearheaded by the creation of a new bar experience, which will showcase the future of ‘sustainable socialising’. Created in partnership with drinks pioneer Ryan Chetiyawardana (Mr Lyan Studio); CEO of Package Free and zero-waste champion Lauren Singer; and The World’s Most Rubbish (a global community dedicated to making single-use a thing of the past), the experience will premiere later this year before rolling out globally across multiple markets.

“We want everything we do to be more sustainable across every aspect of our brand and the new drinks experience is where we bring that all together. It’s a space where the set-up, the furniture, the operations, processes, and drinks will all be as sustainable as can be. This is one of the most exciting things we’ve ever done,” Bramham said.

Chetiyawardana said sustainability needs commitment and bold steps – alongside the little, everyday ones.

“I’m so proud to be working in partnership with Johnnie Walker as it seeks to make proper inroads into addressing this evolving topic with a real and genuine ambition to make a difference. It’s been incredible to see them focused on revolutionising their approach to drink, events and experiences, and helping support big scale change,” he said.

As part of The Next Steps initiative, Johnnie Walker has also partnered with the RSPB Scotland (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) to restore 88 hectares of heavily degraded peatland. This is said to allow plant life to regenerate, support wildlife and reduce carbon emissions.

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