Converting distillery waste into a product and energy

© serhiibobyk, #275151639, 2019, source:


Energy Carbon Waste Materials
Waste collection, treatment and disposal activities; materials recovery Manufacture of food, beverages and tobacco
Investment cost:
High cost
High cost
Associated cost savings: Energy
Co2 emission reduction:
Approx. 56000 tonnes of CO2 saving per annum
Size of company:
Small (less than 50)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
Beginner Intermediate Advanced

Waste not want not...

  • Company reconsiders waste as a by-product to achieve huge energy savings
  • The approach cuts waste volumes, which has positive impacts on operating expenses

Diageo Ltd. is the world’s largest spirit manufacturer, producing brands such as Johnnie Walker, Buchanan's and Bushmills whisky and many others. As a large operation, Diageo Ltd. is able to make big environmental commitments.

By using technology and reconsidering waste management, the company set out to source 20 % of its primary energy requirements from own-generated waste by 2020 and up to 80 % by 2050. 

Key benefits

To achieve these goals, Diageo Ltd. integrates waste-to-energy technology in a form of anaerobic digesters (AD), also known as biogas plants. In the UK, the company redirects about 130 000 tonnes of 'spent wash' - a mixture of spent grain that is used as a feedstock - to AD for generating renewable energy. 

This new technology and approach to waste saves on transport costs, reduces landfill and supplies 80 % of the electricity and 98 % of the thermal steam needed in the distillery. Altogether, these measures reduce annual CO2 equivalent emissions by 56 000 tonnes.

This is a great example of how reconsidering waste management can generate financial benefits to companies. This technology is also available for different sized distilleries and breweries.  

SUSTAINABILITY, 'Scotch Whisky Industry Goes Green',

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