Diageo greens Africa operations

Diageo, the drinks behemoth headquartered in the UK has announced that it will spend heavily on adapting 11 of its African breweries to green energy and water recovery, as it pursues the goal of becoming totally green.

In an interview with the Financial Times , CEO of East African Breweries (owned by Diageo), Andrew Cowan explained that “becoming 100 per cent green is the ultimate goal”.

Across facilities across Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and four further countries, Diageo will invest a total of £180 million in biomass boilers, solar panels, and water recycling plants. The continent is a major market for the company, now accounting for as much as 13% of its global turnover.

In addition to a large initial capital investment for the specific equipment, the larger part of the investment (£130m) will go to long-term funding of these systems. Cowan explained that the company intends to fuel its biomass boilers with organic waste materials that the company will procure from local farmers. He explained that Diageo believes “this will make us not just more green but more local.”

Part of the strategy has been for Diageo to add value to the local economies in which it operates, especially in Kenya, where it is increasing production at its recently built Kisumu brewery.

The company says that across its dozen African breweries, 78% of agricultural materials come from local farmers; by 2020, it hopes to up that figure to 80%.

Such a move allows Diageo not only to help build but also benefit from a larger ecosystem of suppliers in the country (and hopefully some buyers).

Meanwhile, across its divisions worldwide, Diageo says it aims to cut both water usage and greenhouse gas emissions in half by next year. In Africa, the new facilities are slated to save over two billion cubic litres of water every year – at least a fifth of its sites on the continent are “water-distressed”. The solar installations, meanwhile, should produce around 20% of its breweries’ energy.

In a statement, Diageo group CEO Ivan Menzes said the investment is one of the biggest to address climate change in sub-Saharan Africa. “It demonstrates the strength of our commitment to pioneer grain-to-grass sustainability and to positively impact the communities in which we live and work.

“We have a responsibility as a local manufacturer and employer in Africa to grow our business sustainably–creating shared value-and this significant investment continues our work to provide sustainable solutions for our […]

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