One for the road — Glenfiddich uses whisky waste to fuel its trucks
Scotch whisky maker Glenfiddich has begun converting its delivery trucks to run on low-emission biogas made from waste products from its own whisky distilling process as part of a “closed loop” sustainability initiative, it said on Tuesday.
Glenfiddich said it has installed fuelling stations at its Dufftown distillery in north-eastern Scotland that use technology developed by its parent company William Grant & Sons to convert its production waste and residues into an Ultra-Low Carbon Fuel (ULCF) gas that produces minimal carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions.
Stuart Watts, distillery director at family-owned William Grant & Sons, said traditionally Glenfiddich has sold off spent grains left over from the malting process to be used for a high-protein cattle feed.
But through anaerobic digestion — where bacteria break down organic matter producing biogas — the distillery can also use liquid waste from the process to make fuel and eventually recycle all of its waste products this way.
“The thought process behind this was 'what can we do that's better for us all?'," Watts said.
The distiller, which sells more than 14-million bottles of single malt whisky a year, said its whisky waste-based biogas is already powering three specially-converted trucks that transport Glenfiddich spirit from production at Dufftown through to bottling and packaging, covering four William Grant & Sons sites in central and western Scotland.
Sixteenth century English chronicler Raphael Holinshed wrote that, consumed moderately, whisky's many medicinal benefits include preventing the “head from whirling, the tongue from lisping ... the hands from shivering, the bones from aching”.
But it turns out its waste products could also benefit the environment.
The distiller said the biogas cuts CO2 emissions by over 95% compared to diesel and other fossil fuels, and reduces other harmful particulates and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 99%.
Each truck will displace up to 250 tonnes of CO2 annually, Glenfiddich said.
The trucks Glenfiddich is using are converted vehicles from truck maker Iveco that normally run on liquefied natural gas.
Watts said Glenfiddich had a fleet of around 20 trucks and the technology could be applied throughout the delivery fleets of William Grant & Sons' whisky brands and could be scaled up to fuel other company's trucks.
The Scottish whisky industry hopes to hit carbon net zero targets by 2040.