Scotland’s oldest brewery is investing more than £14 million to bolster its commitment to fighting climate breakdown, including switching over to renewable energy and reducing plastic use in its packaging.

Tennent’s, which has been producing its famous lager since 1556, is aiming to eliminate single-use plastic in its packaging by 2021, which will stop around 150 tonnes entering the environment per year.

Innovative cardboard packaging will replace the rings and shrink wrap that house the cans of lager with the company pledging to be entirely plastic free by 2025.

Tennent’s has become the first brewer to join the The UK Plastics Pact, a collaborative initiative that brings businesses together with governments and NGOs to tackle the problem of plastic use.

The pact aims to create a circular economy for plastics and has already signed up John Lewis, Asda, Marks and Spencer and Tesco.

At its Glasgow base, Wellpark, a newly built water treatment plant is now operational. This anaerobic digestion system allows for the on-site treatment of wastewater generated as a by-product of brewing, while generating bio-gas, which is used to heat the brewery.

Reducing energy drawn from the national grid, the bio-gas supports five per cent of Wellpark’s energy needs.

In a bid to reach the Government’s target of net zero carbon by 2025, a new carbon-capture facility, to be built at the end of the year, will save the equivalent of 27,000 flights to London from Glasgow in CO2 annually. 

Over many decades Tennent’s has built strong relationships with the local producers of its ingredients. 

Made from Scottish barley, sourced from almost 100 farmers at a cost of £7.5 million 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, as it has done since 2014.  

A pint of Tennent’s is estimated to travel up to seven times less in mileage than many of its UK competitors.

Tennent’s has also linked up 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. 

These collaborative gatherings invite the public to come and join “a Pint and a Plan” sessions and are designed to turn talk into advocacy and action. 

Martin Doogan, Group Engineering Manager at C&C, Tennent’s parent company, said: “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, said: “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.”

Tennent’s joins Scottish whisky producers in making marked changes to their business strategy to ensure sustainability is at the forefront of their future plans.

In 2009 the Scotch Whisky Association launched its environmental strategy that included targets of improving energy and distilling efficiency, introducing only recyclable packaging and eliminating waste during the distilling process by 2020.

An update on its progress last year showed that three out of seven objectives had been met years earlier than anticipated.

The aim of sourcing 20% of the industry’s energy from non-fossil fuels has been achieved with 21% of primary energy use from alternative energy sources.
Water efficiency has improved by 29%  while its aim of using recycled materials for 40% of its products was met in 2016.

Last year it was revealed that the industry was close to achieving its aim of zero waste to landfill, with only 4% sent from all operational sites in Scotland.