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Johnnie Walker Launches Its Biggest Sustainability Push

Johnny Walker has devised The Next Steps initiative with partners such as Ryan Chetiyawardana to ensure its sustainability efforts ‘keep walking’

By: Tiff Christie|April 15,2021

Global whiskey brand Johnnie Walker has launched The Next Steps initiative, an ambitious sustainability drive that will see the brand ‘keep walking’ puts the focus firmly on more ‘sustainable socialising’ for everyone.

With an eye towards creating products that are ‘grain to glass’, the initiative is 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.

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Included in the programme is a series of environmental commitments which, by 2030, will ensure:

  • 100% of Johnnie Walker whisky production is net-zero carbon.
  • 100% 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.
  • A reinvention of the drinking experience to be more sustainable, and engagement with people around the world on the importance of ‘sustainable socialising’.

“Johnnie Walker is built on a legacy of making positive, progressive choices – our own ‘Keep Walking’ mantra is shaped by that thinking. 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,” said Julie Bramham, Johnnie Walker Global Brand Director.

The new programme will be spearheaded by the creation of a revolutionary new bar experience, which will showcase the future of ‘sustainable socialising’. Created in partnership with multi-award-winning 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 inventive bar experience will premiere later this year before rolling out globally across multiple markets.

Sustainability needs commitment and bold steps – alongside the little, everyday ones

Bramham continued: “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. But it will also be – simply and importantly – a brilliant bar experience, something we’ve all been missing in recent times. It’s the way things should be now and we’re proud to be pushing boundaries so that people can have a better choice. What if, by going out for the night, you could help make the world just a little bit better? This is one of the most exciting things we’ve ever done.”

Ryan Chetiyawardana said: “Sustainability needs commitment and bold steps – alongside the little, everyday ones – so I’m so proud to be working in partnership with Johnnie Walker as they seek 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 focussed on revolutionising their approach to drink, events and experiences, and helping support big-scale change.”

As part of The Next Steps initiative, Johnnie Walker is proud to be partnering with the RSPB Scotland (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) to restore 88 hectares of heavily degraded peatland. This important work will allow plant life to regenerate, support wildlife and reduce carbon emissions. Despite covering only 3% of the world’s surface, peatlands store 30% of the world’s carbon and are vital to the health and wellbeing of the whole planet.

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  • Johnnie Walker is also committing to:
  • Reduce its environmental impact by increasing the recycled content in all its packaging material: including a minimum of 60% recycled glass in its core range bottles by 2025, which the brand predicts will use 13,000 fewer tonnes of carbon every year; 100% of the plastic used in its packaging will also be made from recycled content.
  • Make its glass bottles up to 25% 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% – equivalent to 4,200 return flights from Edinburgh to Sydney.
  • Ensure that by 2030, the production of Johnnie Walker will use 20% 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 barware – 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.

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“Over the next few years, the choices we make and the actions we take will make a tangible difference to the environment. But more than that we want to do what we can to help give people all around the world the chance to make simple, more sustainable choices themselves and, in doing so, play their own part in building a better future. None of us can change things entirely by ourselves but the collective effort of millions of people pushing in the same direction can make a real, lasting difference,” said Bramham.

The brand’s environmental pledges come on top of its continued commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity in all its work and its ongoing advocacy for responsible drinking.

For more information on the initiative visit the next steps page at johnniewalker.com where you can keep up-to-date and track progress in real-time.

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