We have time to push back the climate change crisis if we all work together, says TONY DONNELLY
In a matter of days Glasgow will host the prestigious COP26 summit, highlighted as one of the most important global meetings ever to take place in the UK. The eyes of the world will be fully focused on our nation, our businesses, and the efforts we are making to reverse the damaging impacts of climate change.
In many ways the Scottish Government is recognised as a world leader in addressing climate change, declaring a Climate Change Emergency and committed to achieving a net zero target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
No sector is immune from the environmental challenges ahead, but the good news is there is still time to make a difference. However, to develop the innovative solutions and efficiencies needed to reduce our carbon footprint, there will need to be greater collaboration between government, industry and wider society.
The whisky and the water sector are no different. Earlier this year the Scottish Whisky Association launched its new Sustainability Strategy. This aims to reduce dramatically the environmental impact of Scotland’s national drink, which commits the sector to reaching net-zero emissions in its operations by 2040.
Water company, Anglian Water, has also solidified its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030 and is one of the first in the sector to launch its roadmap as to how it will get there.
So, what is the connection between water and whisky? Well apart from the obvious, wastewater recycling can play a significant role for a high-volume wastewater producer such as the whisky industry.
In addition, water and wastewater management company Alpheus Environmental recently launched a Green Distilling campaign to promote the need for collaboration across different sectors and supply chains, sharing knowledge and expertise to deliver innovation and achieve ambitious carbon reduction targets.
‘It is imperative that we deepen collaboration between government, industry and wider society’
We are privileged to be working alongside such a respected whisky brand as Glenmorangie. The company are leaders in sustainability, reaping the benefits from our Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant in Tain, a process through which bacteria break down organic matter. This is not only reducing operational overheads but also having a direct (and positive) impact on water quality and biodiversity.
The treated effluent from the AD plant acts as a highly nutritious food for oysters to feed off. This has led to the long-term restoration of a native oyster reef located in the Dornoch Firth beside the Distillery. The DEEP (Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project) is one that can only be commended and an incredibly sustainable project.
The key to this success from Glenmorangie’s perspective is that collaboration was crucial. Without industry knowledge and partnerships across several sectors – whisky, water, utilities, education – it would not have been possible.
Given the huge burden that the pandemic continues to place on all our activities, it is imperative that we deepen collaboration between government, industry and wider society to deliver our green recovery and tackle climate change as we seek to become a net zero nation.
The climate emergency presents a significant challenge for industry, but also a once in a lifetime opportunity. By working together we can improve the chances of success in delivering the change needed to build a brighter future.
Tony Donnelly is chairman of Alpheus Environmental (Part of the Anglian Water Group)
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