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Sustainable packaging

Great brands should come in great packaging – which is vital for protecting, preserving and displaying our drinks. We want to keep the sense of celebration around Diageo products, while reducing the environmental impacts of our packaging.

Our approach

People want the brands they enjoy to be in perfect condition when they buy them – and we want them to stand out on the shelf. But the packaging that helps protect and market our brands has environmental impacts throughout a chain that stretches from our suppliers, through the retailer, to the consumer and beyond.

We want to use packaging which has the lowest possible environmental impact while protecting, delivering and presenting our brands. To achieve this, in 2009 we set ourselves targets to reduce our average packaging weight, increase the recycled content of our packaging, and make all our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2015. We are also looking for ways to work with our suppliers, customers, and consumers to ensure that our packaging is effective as well as sustainable. This includes an in‑depth analysis of US and European recycling rates.


This year we have made progress towards all three of our targets.

Progress against packaging targets
Target by 2015 2013 performance (%) Cumulative performance (2009-2013) Achievement
Reduce average packaging weight by 10% 1.2 5.3 On track
Increase average recycled content across all packaging to 42% 2.0 37.0 On track
Make all packaging 100% recyclable/reusable 0.2 98.5 On track

Reducing packaging

Weight reductions not only affect how much material we need to package our products, but create other savings, especially in transport and associated carbon emissions.

We saved 12,200 tonnes in packaging weight, a reduction of 1.2%. Since 2009, we have reduced the average weight of our packaging by 5.3% – good progress towards the 10% reduction we’re committed to reaching by 2015.

This year, for example, we saved 1,600 tonnes of packaging by reducing the weight of Smirnoff Ice glass bottles in Venezuela, and a further 2,500 tonnes of packaging weight through the new JεB whisky bottle’s improved design.

Increasing recycled content

We aim to increase the average recycled content across all packaging by 20% to 42% by 2015. This year, we increased recycled content by 2.0% to 36.5%, largely through increasing the content of recycled glass in the new Baileys bottle to 60%, changes in cullet content (recycled glass which has been crushed and is ready for re‑melting) across a range of beer bottles, and increases in the use of recycled glass in our Smirnoff and Bundaberg brands in Australia. Overall, 80% of our cardboard packaging and 52% of aluminium cans are made from recycled material.

Our aim is to use more recycled and sustainably sourced virgin content in all our packaging. Glass is our largest packaging material by weight, and recycled content varies according to factors that are often local, like the availability of cullet and recycling facilities. We are working with suppliers and improving technology to increase recycled content. In South Korea, for example, our glass suppliers increased recycled content on average to 52% this year, up from 20% in 2012. In North America, where recycling rates are low, good quality cullet is not available, and we are committed to finding ways to work with government, industry, and suppliers to improve this.

Making packaging recyclable and reusable

We are aiming to make all our packaging 100% recyclable or reusable by 2015. This year, the proportion was 98.5%, compared to 95% in 2009. Making our packaging recyclable reduces the risk that it will end up adding to the landfill problem. We tailor our approach to recycling according to what can be achieved in the market where a product is sold, while aiming overall to eliminate the use of any materials that are harmful to the environment.

We also look for opportunities to work with retailers, consumers, and other stakeholders to increase recycling rates and, where possible, deliver other benefits. In Brazil, for example, we work with customers, suppliers, and co‑operatives through our glass recycling campaign. Our partner, Cooperative Vira Lata, collects glass from participating customers, saving recycling costs for both customers and consumers. Our bottle manufacturer, Owens‑Illinois, then buys the ground glass from the co‑operative, generating income for more than 60 co‑operative members. This year over 1,300 tonnes of glass was recycled, and the programme was recognised as one of the best ‘sustainability practices’ by the American Chamber of Commerce at the Fibops and ECO Awards.

We have since launched our glass recycling initiative in four cities in Colombia. Through our Learning for Life programme, we have helped train 125 people working in the collection and recycling supply chain there.

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