Diageo Sustainable Solutions

A call to innovators to collaborate on breakthrough sustainable technology

Do you care about creating a world where the products and brands we choose are truly sustainable? Do you have an idea for an innovation that could make a difference – now? Would you benefit from skills and resources to accelerate your innovation?


The Diageo Sustainable Solutions programme is calling upon innovators to share their ideas and solutions for growing brands and businesses sustainably. Born from our passion and experience in brewing and distilling, we want to advance more sustainable technologies and practices across the full lifecycle of our brands and from grain to glass. We want to welcome new thinking and try new concepts to advance a world that protects and nurtures our natural resources. By sharing some of the sustainability challenges we are facing through our supply chain, we are asking innovators across the world to consider how they can collaborate with us to make a bigger impact.

We are excited by the changes we could cause together and want this to be the start of an exciting future. So we want to hear about your ideas. Whether you have a disruptive solution ready to pilot or innovative technology you believe could apply to our industry, we are keen to hear from you – wherever you are based.

 We will invest our time and experience, sharing our resources and assets where relevant, and fully funding proof of concept pilots that we select from the breakthrough innovations. We look forward to embracing tomorrow’s sustainable practices today… and inspiring a more sustainable world together.

 Our first challenges encourage your innovations to support the four areas of energy, water, packaging and agriculture. These are critical to supporting the sustainable growth of our brands.

We are planning to announce the opening of applications for a second wave of challenges in February 2021, and will post more news of these next challenges here in the new year.

The Process for the first wave of challenges will be:

  1. Short online application, open to entries until December the 16th
  2. Shortlisting of applicants by 22nd of December
  3. Virtual Pitch days hosted in January 2021
  4. Selection of successful pilot proposals by end of January 2021
  5. Up to a 6-month pilot of collaboration to develop your ideas and demonstrate a proof of concept within our supply chain, with funding up to £100k per pilot  

Each pilot will be sponsored by a Diageo Business Unit lead, with a dedicated Technical support team (from Diageo and supply chain partners)

Successful pilots will be considered for scaling within the Diageo Supply Chain.


1. Energy – low carbon heat for distilling and brewing

Problem statement: Heat is a critical input to our brewing and distilling processes, with at least 80% of the total energy requirement associated with brewing and distilling being heat-related. There are both batch and continuous processes primarily utilising steam for the heat transfer medium. The processes require heat (steam) at a range 120oC-200oC and generates waste heat in the form of hot water/steam condensate at 30oC-90oC and at 150oC-160oC for flue gas. We have diverse global facilities both in industrialised zones and small rural locations.

Challenge: To significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with Diageo’s industrial heat requirements through generation and/or reuse processes, while ensuring continuity of heat supply – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week –  with no maintenance interruptions.

Potential solutions could include but are not limited to:

  • Waste heat recovery & reuse (including heat pumps)
  • Hydrogen heat production
  • Solar thermal heat generation
  • Thermal energy storage and distribution
  • Low-carbon natural gas heat generation
  • Control & Instrumentation of heat balancing/energy management software
  • Geographically-specific solutions

Submit your ideas

2. Water – water stress mitigation in production facilities

Problem statement: Diageo production operates in areas of the world where water is in scarce supply for the whole community. Water is a critical input for brewing, distilling and other non-product processes (e.g. cleaning). India is one area where we have significant operations in water stressed region, and a large facility in India will use up to 2000 cubic metres of water per day.

Challenge: To help drive water efficiency improvement by up to 50% across our brewing and distilling operations, through the  implementation of innovations such as water generation, usage efficiency and reuse of water for operations.

Potential solutions could include but are not limited to:

  • Intelligent / automated Water metering
  • Greywater Recycling (C&I) and wastewater treatment
  • Zero Liquid Discharge
  • Water harvesting (atmospheric and rainwater)
  • Water reuse
  • Desalination
  • Hardware and software for efficiency improvement

Submit your ideas

3. Circularity – sustainable glass bottle design

Problem statement: Glass bottles are very much part of the heritage of many Diageo brands and have been in use for more than 150 years. We want to secure the future of our brands and associated assets, including glass bottles. Glass bottles are energy intensive to create, although can be infinitely recycled and produced by using high levels of recycled glass cullet – up to 80% subject to availability and new bottle colour or finish requirements. However, the current glass bottle designs and supply chains mean that there are often challenges in ensuring glass bottles are recycled, which then limits the consistent quality and supply of cullet. In addition the rise of ecommerce and changing supply chains overall, have stretched the limitations of existing glass design as a packaging material.

Challenge: To improve the overall sustainability of our glass bottles, reduce associated waste and promote increased reuse/recycling as part of our sustainability goals of reducing energy, water, waste and increasing reuse/recycling.  We are searching for solutions across the entire glass bottle value chain (excluding furnaces) from better raw materials, labelling, design for shipping, filling, handling and optimising end-of-life processing.

Potential solutions could include but are not limited to:

  • Radical light weighting and/or enhanced mechanical strength
  • Breakthroughs in forming technology in the context of container glass
  • Altering glass bottle content such as raw materials, additives, alternative coatings to minimise the materials footprint overall
  • Optimising glass bottle attributes such as shape, colour, decoration (labelling and/or sleeves) to significantly improve recycling recovery rates
  • Making labels and other non glass components 100% recyclable or compostable
  • Design for durability, reuse, ecommerce, improved packaging and logistics, while still delivering strong aesthetics
  • Premium (cosmetic) quality and clarity levels from improved sustainability manufacturing methods eg. high cullet content
  • Alternative filling processes to enable most sustainable glass container design and overall footprint

Submit your ideas

4. Agriculture – smallholder farm resource efficiency

Problem statement: Unpredictable water availability in regions where Diageo’s smallholder farming networks operate, such as in sub-Saharan Africa where they grow crops such as barley, sorghum and maize, make it difficult for these farmers to reliably deliver the quantity and quality of yield. Reliable access to water is a significant underlying problem, becoming even more challenging due to the impact of climate change. Applying the right amount of moisture, at the right growth stage to ensure crop development, further complicates the issue. The variability of water access, and the distributed nature of the smallholders, also makes applying and financing solutions to address the problems difficult, especially where sensors, software and equipment may be applied as solutions. Addressing this problem will also benefit the wider farming communities, generating a positive impact on livelihoods, climate change resilience and productivity.

Challenge: Significantly improve resource efficiency and predictability of crop yield from smallholder farms, in areas that are water stressed and where they suffer from erratic weather patterns, to improve sustainability of producing farmed crops for Diageo’s brewing and distilling business. Solutions need to be developed that are affordable and applicable to individual smallholder farms and/or communities.

Potential solutions could include but are not limited to:

  • Regenerative agriculture solutions
  • Water sourcing and reuse solutions
  • Metering and control of soil condition and health (helping mitigate against erosion and or salinisation)
  • Services such as credit scoring, crop insurance and financing
  • Smart irrigation, irrigation support tools and solar irrigation
  • Farm knowledge networks, and equipment sharing platforms
  • Hyper-local weather forecasting
  • Goods and services marketplaces

Submit your ideas

Discover more

We hope this inspires you to share your ideas. If you need any more information please contact by Wednesday 16th of December: