Largely located amid the stunning natural scenery that makes up Scotland’s highlands, islands and rugged coastlines, the Scotch whisky industry occupies an enviable niche, eulogising the landscapes, traditions and particular environment which contribute to its product.
A keen awareness of the environmental movement has meant distilleries, which often conduct tours of their premises’ for tourists, are increasingly at pains to be seen as a functional part of the natural world, rather than a burden upon it.
In recent years at least four distilleries have set out plans to reach, or have already hit, net zero emissions, while others have worked to become more environmentally friendly through cutting water usage, planting woodlands, undertaking river management to help spawning salmon, and minimising peat use.
The latest green initiative comes from the producers of the Speyside single malt Glenfiddich, which has said it will run its entire delivery fleet on “green biogas” created from distillery residues.
The family-owned company said production waste from its distillery in Dufftown, in north east Scotland, will be converted into an “ultra-low carbon fuel gas that produces minimal carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions”.
Glenfiddich, which means “valley of the deer” in Gaelic, said it has already installed fuelling stations and its adapted lorries will soon be on Scotland’s roads running on the low carbon fuel.
The technology needed to convert waste into fuel was developed by its parent company, William Grant and Sons.
Stuart Watts, William Grant and Sons’ distilleries director, said: “It has taken more than a decade for Glenfiddich to become the first distillery to process 100 per cent of its waste residues on its own site, then to be the first to process those residues into biogas fuel to power its trucks.
“We are proud of these renewable energy breakthroughs in our industry as we scale up the decarbonising benefits of this closed-loop process across our entire transport fleet.”
Mr Watts said the biogas reduces carbon dioxide by more than 95 per cent and other greenhouse emissions nearly completely compared to diesel and other fossil fuels.
Each lorry will displace up to 250 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, which the company said was the environmental equivalent of planting up to 4,000 trees.
Biogas is made through the purification of waste biomass substances, which is then often referred to as “biomethane”. It can be used in the same manner as fossil gas for natural gas vehicles (NGV) or in “dual fuel vehicles”.
According to the International Renewable Energy Association, emissions are much lower than petrol or diesel – by up to 80 per cent in some vehicles.
The WWF suggests that while the fuel is much cleaner and makes use of what would otherwise be waste products, in the long term biogas should perhaps be viewed as a “an important transition fuel on the road to completely decarbonising our energy supply”.
William Grant and Sons said it plans to make its technology available across the Scottish whisky industry “to support the decarbonisation of transport in line with UK and Scottish governments’ net zero targets”.
Under current plans, Scotland is aiming to become a net-zero society by 2045, five years before the rest of the UK.
Additional reporting by PA.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies