Many of our distilleries, breweries, and other sites are surrounded by complex ecosystems which support a wide range of plant and animal species and are often vital to the livelihoods of local people. Our potential impacts on the wider environment and the ecosystem services it provides are important to us, in particular those caused by the use of our main ingredient, water. While these do not fall under the performance management system we have established for water, carbon, waste and packaging, where appropriate we are measuring and reporting these impacts, mitigating the risks, and reducing them where possible.
Sensitive ecological sites
We have identified 35 operational sites and other land we own near or adjacent to areas designated as having biodiversity value by the United Nations or national conservation lists. These have a total area of approximately 29km2. Several of our sites are also in or close to the habitats of species that are designated as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In all cases, we are managing these sites in accordance with our licence conditions and the requirements of local stakeholders. A full list of sites close to protected areas, and threatened species (to the best of our knowledge) is included in the Sustainability & Responsibility Performance Addendum to our Annual Report, indicator G4-EN11.
The use of water in areas that are water stressed has particular consequences for biodiversity. Our overall water strategy focuses on increasing the efficiency of water use and reducing pollution globally, with a specific emphasis on replenishing water in water stressed areas.
We have identified 15 water sources used by our operations as being sensitive. Sixteen of our production sites are associated with wetlands designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the RAMSAR Convention). In each protected wetland we are monitoring the local issues specific to our sites, and implementing technologies which improve water efficiency and the quality of wastewater. We are also exploring the potential for collaboration with other industries and stakeholders to encourage the spread of more effective management practices.
We have made significant progress in eliminating ozone-depleting substances from our operations. However, some substances, including hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), are inherent components of equipment, and small quantities are emitted through its use and maintenance. The use of fuel and the distillation of alcohol generate emissions which have impacts on the environment. We have also set ourselves a target to ensure all our new refrigeration equipment in trade is free from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from 2015, with a reduction in associated greenhouse gas emissions.
A small number of sites have NOx and SOx air emissions associated with the roasting and kilning of cereals, used to flavour some of our brands. These emissions are measured but are minimal to our overall total NOx/SOx levels, which remain low compared with background NOx and SOx data. Details of our air emissions can be found in the Performance Addendum to the Annual Report.
Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs)
Diageo recognises that public acceptance of genetic modification (GM) technology differs among countries, and that scientific knowledge and public opinion continue to evolve. We believe that the application of scientific advances in this area must be guided by government agencies responsible for public health, consumer interests and the environment. Diageo will always adhere to regulatory requirements for raw materials and ingredients. Sourcing of these will inevitably vary around the world. In general Diageo does not use GMO based raw materials in our brands. This is influenced by market conditions, such as raw material availability, regulation and consumer preferences. In some markets, where GM is prevalent, raw materials from GMO sources may be used to make our product, where legally approved. In all circumstances Diageo will adhere to local labeling requirements. Diageo puts the consumer at the heart of everything we do. We are committed to ensuring our consumers have the best possible access to information from which to make informed choices about our products. We will continue to monitor and respond to scientific and regulatory developments, as well as to consumer attitudes, and keep our policy under regular review.