Sustainability Executive

The Scotch Whisky industry has embraced ambitious targets to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint for its operations by 2045, in response to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) sustainability strategy to deliver the target 10 years ahead of the UK Government’s target. Distilleries of all sizes are adapting to the challenge and sustainability is now high on the agenda. In addition to being environmentally responsible, there are hard business reasons why the industry is embracing sustainability, as significant cost reduction can be achieved by reusing and recycling and reducing energy consumption and water usage. In response, exciting new Sustainability roles are emerging to oversee execution, deliver net-zero and realise the financial benefits.

As a Sustainability Executive you would be responsible for developing, driving, and continually reviewing the company's sustainability programmes, practices and initiatives whilst considering profit, legislation, the complexities of environmental management, and other factors that affect company performance. This will involve working at all levels in the organisation and with external stakeholders to identify and develop sustainability measures and practices that will improve, for example, the use of water and electricity in the distillation process, the use of fertiliser and pesticides in raw materials and measures that generate additional profits such as exploring different materials for bottling and reducing packaging waste. You will help develop policy, goals and objectives that maintain and exceed productivity and profitability objectives.

Role Description

You will need to be motivated by and dedicated to reducing the company's carbon footprint, in and above compliance to environmental regulations set by the government and the industry. You will also need to have an interest in how to integrate sustainability into all aspect of the business from farm to glass. Championing the planet in all your actions. And ensuring measures pursued are scalable and help create a greener and healthier environment.

This can be an immensely rewarding career where you can directly influence the scope and agenda of your work. Providing unrivalled opportunities for further progression.

Main duties and responsibilities

Sustainability touches all aspects of a business, whether it's the ingredients sourced, process innovation in manufacturing operations, or how products are packaged and delivered to customers. As a Sustainability Executive you will make a vital contribution to helping your Distillery meet its NetZero goal. You will help shape and drive many of the initiatives that form part of the overall sustainability strategy and will hold the business and colleagues accountable for delivery.

As a Sustainability Executive you will provide direction, support and advice across the organisation on all aspects of the business’s sustainability programme and wider sustainable development agenda. You are likely to report into the Head of Sustainability and will ensure the business develops, delivers and communicates strong sustainability credentials that support the business strategy both internally and externally. The role includes:

  • Lead the successful delivery of the distilleries sustainability strategy which may include establishing environmental and energy management certified to ISO14001 and 50001.
  • Create new strategies and action plans to identify opportunities to build value propositions and develop sustainability across the business.
  • Plan, manage and deliver internal site audits to monitor progress and to identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Lead the implementation of sustainable practices and provide advice, guidance, and encouragement to ensure sustainability is at the heart of all business decisions and actions.
  • Promote sustainable practices and awareness of climate change and the vital role the food and drink industry have in tackling global warming.
  • Lead sustainability discussions with clients.
  • Contribute to managing sustainability action plans by monitoring performance, issues, and progress.
  • Develop KPI measures and regular reporting of initiatives.  Deliver regular presentations on progress.
  • Run training programmes to colleagues across the businesses raising awareness about sustainability and environmental issues, and the contribution each colleague can make.
  • Build strategic relationships with key stakeholders across the business.
  • Monitoring new national and international environmental legislation to understand the implications for the business and to ensure the business complies.
  • Guide the organisation through the three stages of sustainability; compliance, efficiency and innovation.

Skills and experience

Successfully delivering a Sustainability Strategy and the programmes and initiatives that form part of it, demands both heart and in-depth critical analysis. As a relatively new discipline, no two days will be the same and the role will continue to evolve. You will need a broad skill set to realise the potential from each opportunity including:

  • A genuine passion for sustainability and the drive to deliver real, positive change.
  • Experience working in fields relating to sustainability with a solid understanding of the landscape and challenges. Preferably with a beverages business.
  • Highly organised, self-motivated with a willingness to learn and take on new challenges and interpret the implications for the business.
  • Highly analytical and comfortable handling and interpreting large amounts of data to develop data-driven sustainability programmes.
  • Advanced communication skill, presentation skills and report writing skills, with the ability to articulate complex, technical and science-based information in a clear and understandable way.
  • A passion for building your knowledge. Sustainability is a fast moving subject and you will need to proactively build your knowledge through constant research, reading and study, to stay ahead of industry updates, opportunities and upcoming legislative environment.

Qualifications Required

You are likely to have a degree in Environmental sciences or management, environmental engineering, or associated subjects such as ecology, biosciences and earth sciences.

Did you know?

The Scotch Whisky industry’s first Environment Strategy was launched in 2009, the first of its kind to cover an entire sector. Since then, the industry has made progress against its original targets, including:

  • A 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 28% of primary energy use is now from non-fossil fuel sources, up from 3% in 2008.
  • Efficiency of water use in Scotch Whisky production has improved by 22%, and
  • Just 1% of waste is now being sent to landfill, down 75% since 2016.
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The Scotch Whisky Association

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