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Tennent's announces sustainability push

Scottish brewer, Tennent's has announced a £14.23m investment in sustainability, a significant boost in its contribution to the fight against climate change.

Timed to coinced with Scottish Climate Week, Tennent's is bolstering its existing commitment to responsible production, the investment enables the introduction of green-technology and strategic partnerships, including a push to no longer use single use plastics by 2021.

Out of single-use plastics by 2021

Tennent’s aims to be out of single-use plastic in its packaging by 2021, eliminating 150 tonnes of plastic from the environment per annum. From Spring 2020, the brand’s larger canned product formats will use cardboard packaging as an alternative to hi-cone rings and shrink-wrap. Smaller packs will follow later in the year with a further pledge to be out of all plastic by 2025.

Tennent’s has also become the first brewer to join the likes of John Lewis, Tesco, Unilever and Coca-Cola in becoming a member of The UK Plastics Pact – a collaborative initiative that brings businesses together with governments and NGOs to tackle the problem and move towards a system which keeps plastic in the economy and out of the environment.

An anaerobic digestion plant

A newly built water treatment plant – otherwise known as anaerobic digestion – is now operational at Tennent’s Wellpark home. This allows for the on-site treatment of wastewater generated as a by-product of brewing. A first for a Scottish brewery, the facility improves the quality of wastewater while also generating bio-gas, which is then used to help heat the brewery. Reducing energy drawn from the national grid, the bio-gas supports 5 per cent of Wellpark’s energy needs.

In addition to the anaerobic plant – which is now operational – plans are afoot to ensure that all of the brewery’s energy will come from renewable sources by 2025, twenty years ahead of the Scottish Government’s targets.

Carbon neutral by 2025

A new carbon-capture facility will also break ground at Wellpark by the end of 2019, saving the equivalent of 27,000 flights to London from Glasgow each year in Co2. The business is investigating other carbon-offset innovation and is committed to being net carbon zero by 2025.

Local sourcing and waste management

Tennent’s has built strong relationships with local producers of its ingredients. Made from 100 per cent Scottish barley, sourced from almost 100 farmers at a cost of £7.5m per annum, the beer’s by-products are then entirely recycled for use as animal feed or organic compost, helping Wellpark to send zero waste to landfill, which it has done since 2014.  

The producer claims that a pint of Tennent’s also travels up to seven times less in mileage than many of its UK competitors.

Inviting Tennent’s drinkers – and its team – to join the climate change movement

Tennent’s has also linked with the 2050 Climate Group to engage people throughout Scotland in the issue of climate change. A not-for-profit organisation that equips young people with climate change knowledge and leadership skills, 2050 Climate Group will work with Tennent’s to run a series of workshops in pubs throughout the country. Inviting the public to come and join ‘a pint and a plan’ sessions, these collaborative gatherings are designed to turn talk into advocacy and action. A full programme of these events, complete with information on how to take part, will be released early December 2019.

Martin Doogan, group engineering manager at C&C, Tennent’s parent company, says: "As Scotland’s oldest surviving business, and one of its best-loved, we take our responsibility to do the right thing very seriously. 

"Sustainability is a core part of our brand and today marks a significant step-change in our plans. We’ve leveraged our scale and influence, our passion for innovation and our network of contacts to ensure that we act decisively against climate change, without delay.

"It’s a leap in the right direction – but we’re not complacent and we’re not finished. We will continue to seek out ways to minimise our environmental impact across our entire business, from our transport fleet, to international deliveries. Our commitment is to lasting environmental change; in our company, in our industry and beyond."

Michael Mackenzie, trustee of the of 2050 Climate Group, says: "We are thrilled to be working with Tennent’s on our ‘A Pint and a Plan’ workshops. These are a novel way to grab people’s attention and to encourage them to take tangible action on climate change. We can’t wait to get started."

The business has also released an advertising campaign highlighting the importance of sustainability. With the line 'Because Life is Bigger than Beer', ads will appear on digital and out-of-home across Central Scotland, with the dual aim of raising awareness of environmental responsibility and prompting engagement in its initiatives, such as 2050.scot. As part of this, a new brand film has been released on social media. It has been filmed in locations across Scotland, including Tennent’s water source, Loch Katrine.

10 October 2019 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, editor