Many of our distilleries, breweries and other sites are surrounded by valuable ecosystems supporting a wide range of plant and animal species that can also be vital to the livelihoods of local people.
It is important we take responsibility for the impact our business has on these ecosystems and the wider environment, particularly when it comes to our main raw materials. Where appropriate, we endeavour to measure and report our impact, mitigate the risks and work towards a positive environmental contribution.
We are actively engaged in the development of Science Based Targets for Nature, and seek to apply the emerging standard to our supply chain to better understand our nature related impacts, dependencies and risks to be disclosed under forthcoming recommendations from the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosure.
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 relatively small total area of approximately 25 km².
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. In all cases, we are managing these sites in accordance with our licence conditions and the expectations of local stakeholders.
The use of water in areas that are water-stressed has particular consequences for biodiversity. Our preserve water for life strategy focuses on an integrated approach to corporate water stewardship, with a specific emphasis on water-stressed areas.
Sixteen of our production sites are associated with wetlands designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the RAMSAR Convention).
In each of these sites we endeavour to monitor the local issues specific to our sites and are implementing technologies that improve water efficiency and the quality of wastewater. We are also committed to collective action and exploring the potential for collaboration with other industries and stakeholders to encourage more effective water catchment management practices.
Distillation and brewing can generate emissions that impact on the environment.
We have made 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 their use and maintenance.
We have 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 our sites have nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (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.