Diageo Sustainable Solutions (DSS) Seeks Innovation to Achieve Water Targets

Water is inextricably linked to climate change, which will continue to affect its availability, quality, and quantity. To minimize the many damaging effects of our changing climate particularly so in water-stressed regions, we must place water at the heart of both our mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Recognizing this, Diageo has made water stewardship a pillar of its 10-year ESG action plan, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress.

Water is the most important ingredient in Diageo products, which include brands such as Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Tanqueray, Baileys, Smirnoff, and Captain Morgan. As well as being in every product Diageo makes, it is also used across key steps in the production process. With 132 production sites around the world, Diageo operates in diverse geographies and sources ingredients from regions with varying agricultural and climatic conditions.

As part of their water stewardship strategy, the company has set ambitious targets of 40% improvement in water use efficiency in operations in water-stressed areas and 30% improvement in water use efficiency in operations across the company by 2030.

To help the business achieve these targets, Diageo Sustainable Solutions (DSS) is launching a fourth round of innovation challenges, building on previous rounds which have resulted in successful pilot collaborations across areas of the business ranging from production to packaging, to smallholder farmer suppliers. New technology companies who are selected for the program secure a fully funded technology pilot.

For example, Birmingham-based fluid sensor innovator 4T2 Sensors was part of a previous cohort. Following a successful pilot phase, they are now exploring further rollout opportunities with the Diageo team.

“Diageo’s pilot programme goes above and beyond. The cross-functional team they assembled to work with us on the implementation made the pilot very effective.”

— Max Swinbourne, CEO, 4T2 Sensors

If you are a water innovator whose technology can help Diageo tackle the challenges below, Diageo would like to hear from you. The application takes around ten minutes. Applications close on 20th March 2024.

Challenge 1 - Water Efficiency

Diageo is looking to reduce their water use by an average of 30% by 2030, as well as improve water efficiency in the operations of their suppliers, third-party packaging, and manufacturing sites. If your technology can help them bring step-change improvements across their malting, distillery, brewing, or packaging sites, then this challenge is for you.

Note: if your solution is aimed at on-farm water efficiency, please see Challenge 4.

Challenge 2 – Wastewater Upcycling

Diageo would like to find solutions that help them upcycle the wastewater from their distillation and brewing operations. Resulting value-add products or services do not necessarily need to benefit Diageo’s supply chain or other industries; they can be of benefit to local communities or nature and biodiversity.

Challenge 3 – Water-Efficient Ingredients

Diageo is looking to complement its existing agricultural supply chains with additional, water-efficient sources of ingredients – rice, aniseed, agave, wheat, maize, grapes, barley, sugarcane, sorghum, and neutral spirits – across different geographies. This is not a regenerative agriculture challenge – Diageo is looking for breakthrough solutions that entirely re-think the ingredient production process.

Challenge 4 – Agricultural Water Impact

Agriculture contributes about 80-90% of Diageo brands’ water footprints. Separately from Challenge 1, Diageo is looking to reduce water impact in their irrigated agricultural operations specifically. Relevant solutions should directly or indirectly increase water efficiency in on-farm operations for agave, sorghum, barley.

Challenge 5 – Improving Water Use Across the Hospitality Sector

Diageo is looking for ways to better engage their consumers on the importance of water. Relevant solutions will find creative ways of reducing on-trade water usage while creating a positive consumer experience.

You can take a look at previous DSS Innovation Challenges here.