We believe industry must lead sustainability. We have a 50 year strategic plan, well beyond the term of many governments. We adopted a ‘goal of zero waste’ and a ‘road to carbon neutral’ policy early. We are well advanced, and are working towards being carbon neutral by 2025.
Measures we have already achieved include 85kw of solar panels generating electrical energy for our internal use and we regularly achieve supply back into the grid. We are not at 100% renewable energy and work continues on this. We are not far from achieving 0% production “waste” from our distilleries. We have already eliminated 95% of production waste from our distilling process. Waste is something that has no other or further use. We have conducted research, over many decades, into all of our production outputs to find alternative potential positive and sustainable uses. We have created relationships and found solutions to wasting the used raw materials.
For example the ‘pot ale’ (the liquid which is made up of water and organic materials, left in a still after distillation) and the cleaning water, are collected by a local business and trucked off site. This liquid is mixed with green waste in windrows to create high grade premium garden mulch.
The spent grains at all of our distilleries are used by local farmers for feeding sheep and cattle, in exchange for bartered goods. We have given away spent grains to farmers within our broader region where poor seasons have been an issue.
In Porongurup, in April 2021 we commissioned a 270 evacuated tube solar water heater for our 2750 brewing water, saving significant energy and largely removing the carbon consumed in brewing this whisky. We are working on a 5 year plan for implementation of oxy-hydrogen generators in Porongurup as a supplement and eventual replacement for carbon based energy. The energy for the oxy-hydrogen generators is supplied by existing on-site solar energy.
Following 5+ years of research around the world, we are currently commissioning a custom made 5-10 tonne rotating drum malting machine for our Porongurup site. This technology is the most water efficient and energy efficient way to malt grain. This should require only 1/5th of the water used in traditional malting facilities. We have repurposed an existing ‘rotating drum fermenter’ from a large winery, and other malting equipment from the malting plant at the now decommissioned Corio Distillery in Geelong, once the largest distillery in the Southern Hemisphere. This re-use and repurposing saves all of the massive energy consumed in making the large scale equipment, which would otherwise add to pollution, if it were made from scratch.
This long term strategic expansion into in-house malting also permits us to continue working with local farmers, and to provide a new local market for them for premium grain. We can then know the exact terroir of the grain in each batch of whisky. We have been sourcing grains direct from the farm gate from local farmers for over 12 years.
We are currently commissioning a 600 litre yeast propagation facility in Porongurup. This allows us to develop our own permanent proprietary yeast strains, and eliminates the need to rely on commercial yeasts. This eliminates supply chain carbon miles on transporting yeast from overseas. We are also working on a project with a Doctor of Yeast at a University to capture and propagate a native West Australian wild yeast, for our own unique proprietary strain.
Carbon miles remain an issue in supply chains. In 2020 we centralised all packaging to our Margaret River facility, which significantly reduces the carbon miles on thousands of kilometres in transport each year to and from the more remote distilleries in Albany and Porongurup.
We identified packaging as a key area where there is waste in the product life-cycle. Since 2018, we have reduced packaging and 95% of what we source is 100% recycled packaging, which we then use in a way that end consumers can easily recycle the packaging again. Staff at our cellar doors collect and recycle bottles used in our retail premises. We do not use single use plastics within our retail environments. We use compostable tasting cups, and utensils and plates when reusable is not feasible, for example at festivals.
We continue to look for other measures to repurpose, use recyclable, and avoid plastic and minimise waste.