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Diageo Sets New Responsible Drinking, Social and Environmental Goals for 2020

Global alcoholic beverage company Diageo—maker of such iconic brands as Guinness, Bailey's, Tanqueray and Johnnie Walker—has announced 20 new sustainability and responsibility targets in three core areas to be achieved by 2020: leadership in alcohol in society, building thriving communities and reducing environmental impact.

The targets draw on the company’s achievements to date and are aligned with the emerging United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Diageo says the targets focus on the areas of greatest material impact to its business and represent an evolution of its approach to better measure and evaluate the tangible difference its programs make to people’s lives.

The three focus areas represent an interlinked and holistic approach to understanding and managing Diageo’s sustainability and responsibility impact:

Leadership in alcohol in society

Diageo will continue efforts to promote responsible drinking, with a focus on delivering the alcohol industry’s five global commitments to reduce harmful drinking. Going beyond these commitments, the company will continue to create partnerships to support programs to address harmful drinking with a focus in its top 20 countries. Diageo will focus on the measurement, evaluation and public reporting of its responsible drinking programs with the aim of continually learning and improving efforts to make a tangible difference.

In addition to the company’s goal to equip and empower participants to make better choices through its programs, Diageo’s 2020 targets commit to creating one million ambassadors for responsible drinking, who will go on to become advocates for a responsible and positive role for alcohol in society long after they have taken part in a Diageo initiative.

Building thriving communities

Diageo recognizes that its distilleries, breweries and wineries are at the heart of the communities in which it works, and that it has a responsibility to create shared value throughout its supply chain. The company’s 2020 targets commit it to further partnerships with local farmers and agricultural communities to develop more sustainable supply chains and raw material sourcing. Using comprehensive evaluation of the material impact its programs have on people’s lives, the company will strengthen and expand established programs which focus on providing safe drinking water and sanitation (Water for Life), skills development in the retail hospitality sector (Learning for Life) and women’s empowerment (Plan W).

Reducing environmental impact

Every year Diageo produces more than 6.5 billion liters of its brands, from more than 130 manufacturing sites in over 30 countries. Recognizing that the impact on the environment is not limited to just Diageo-owned sites, the 2020 targets reflect the need to better manage water stewardship and carbon emissions across the whole supply chain. The company will work with suppliers, striving to decouple the growth of its business from impact on the environment.

Diageo has also appointed David Croft to the role of Global Sustainable Development Director. Assuming the role in February 2015, Croft will be responsible for Diageo’s overall sustainability strategy. Croft is currently the Director of Quality and Technical at the UK retailer, Waitrose, where he is responsible for the quality and sustainability of Waitrose products and their supply chains.

Last year, Diageo announced it is working towards zero waste to landfill targets at all of its sites by 2015, but is looking to make its waste management activities a higher priority via a five-pronged approach. The company said it reduced waste to landfill by 53.4 percent in 2013, contributing to an overall reduction of 77.9 percent against a 2007 baseline. That means 81,099 tons of manufacturing waste was being reused or recycled.

Diageo was ranked highest among the companies reporting on indirect emissions and supply chain impacts on the CDP's 2013 FTSE 350 Climate Change Report. The report provides an annual update on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) data and climate change strategies at the UK's biggest public companies.

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