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Diageo and Pollution

General chat and talk about whisky.

Diageo and Pollution

Postby Iain » Sun Oct 23, 2005 12:31 pm

I'm not sure it gives us a clear picture of the extent of any damage being done to the environment, but this is an interesting story about whisky industry "waste".

http://www.sundayherald.com/52436

I recall vaguely that there was a similar debate 'way back in the 19th century, when local landowners complained that effluent discharged from Highland distilleries was killing off their salmon. No doubt someone will be able to provide a reference to it in one of the whisky history books.

And I'm sure there was a pollution scare a few years back at Girvan, caused by an accidental discharge of effluent into the sea from the grain distillery there?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Oct 23, 2005 4:48 pm

Interesting, but rather typically sensationalized in the first paragraphs, and pretty much inconclusive when you get into the nitty gritty. I would not want to form any kind of judgment based only on this story.
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Postby Aidan » Sun Oct 23, 2005 7:40 pm

A previous job I had involved monitoring companies' output into the public drainage system. A well-known brewer used to pump the caustic soad it used to wash its tanks into the public drainage system (although I don't know if this was a river or if it was treated before going into the environment...). It also used to pump heated water out, which can cause eutrification etc. if it gets into rivers etc. I'm sure distillers could do the same.

Bowmore seem to be leading the pack when it comes to efficent use of energy and materials.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Oct 23, 2005 8:19 pm

Such stuff is no longer dumped willy-nilly. Pot ale from the distilleries on the Sound of Islay (Bunny and CI) is released into the strong tidal current, but other Islays have to make other arrangements. One spreads it on the fields, another actually trucks it to CI for dumping into the Sound. The fact that they all have to account for every manner of effluent is another indication to me that the above-linked story is somewhat sensationalized.
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Postby Aidan » Sun Oct 23, 2005 9:54 pm

It wasn't supposed to be dumped willy-nilly then either, but it was. Lots and lots of companies, in my experience, voilate environmental guidelines and laws. I have no idea whether Diagio companies do or not, though.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:11 am

Nor do I. But I am aware of the propensity of the press to lead with whatever grabs a headline, without regard for nuance or context. I say this as someone who takes most seriously the adversarial and watchdog roles of the press, and is frequently displeased by the way those roles are undermined by that propensity.
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Postby Aidan » Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:47 am

That's certainly true, but libel laws in the UK and Europe are much different to the US. Your papers are protected by the First Amendment. If I was a newspaper editor, I wouldn't take on a company with the resources of Diago unless I was sure about what I was printing.
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Postby Iain » Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:35 am

The report is published Tuesday, so everyone will be able to read it and draw his and her own conclusions. I'm assuming it will appear on the SEPA website:

http://www.sepa.org.uk/

and that Diageo will make an official response via a press release.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Oct 24, 2005 2:31 pm

Aidan wrote:That's certainly true, but libel laws in the UK and Europe are much different to the US. Your papers are protected by the First Amendment. If I was a newspaper editor, I wouldn't take on a company with the resources of Diago unless I was sure about what I was printing.


Aidan, there's nothing in that article that does not appear to be 100% factual. It's a question of emphasis, and the impression left to the casual reader by such emphasis. "Diageo country's biggest polluter" grabs more eyeballs than "Pollution report stirs muddy waters".

The Boston paper yesterday started a series on charitable activity amongst the local sports franchises, a worthy and interesting story. But with a huge amount of generosity and good news to report, they chose to lead with a headline about, and photos of, certain highly-paid local athletes who don't give much to charities. It struck me as unnecessarily nasty, and, more important, not particularly relevant to the story as a whole. But it gets readers' attention, and that sometimes seems to be more important than focussing on the real story.
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Postby Aidan » Mon Oct 24, 2005 2:49 pm

I agree with you about papers in general. That's what subeditors are hired to do, unfortunately.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:02 pm

In truth, I am uncomfortable making this kind of complaint about the press, as I believe the press serve a noble purpose, and most such complaints (in this country, anyway) seem to come from cranks with an ax to grind. But it's frustrating to see that purpose pushed into the background by crass commercial considerations.

Does this have something to do with whisky? Maybe...but we are veering perhaps too close to political topics (or I am, anyway). It will be interesting, in any case, to follow the story, as effluent is indeed an unavoidable fact of the whisky industry. In the meantime, I will say what I always do when I find myself wandering a little too far from the topic at hand:

Whisky is good!
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Postby Aidan » Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:06 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:Whisky is good!


That would be a good headline.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:26 pm

....and for once one could say "believe what the newpapers say" !

Skål!
Christian
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:50 pm

Aidan wrote:
MrTattieHeid wrote:Whisky is good!


That would be a good headline.


But hardly news!
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Postby Lawrence » Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:53 pm

There have been a few articles about the lengths that Diageo has gone to (and other distillers) in WM articles, including building a hugely expensive pipe (8 million GBP comes to mind), to not pollute. These articles are rarely quoted and the facts are generally ignored.

Bad news sells papers.
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Postby Iain » Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:21 pm

This SEPA report from 2003 identifies only one type of "whisky pollution" - elevated copper deposits in the sea off parts of Skye Jura and Isla. (it's only a single sentence - to find it, do a "find on this page" for whisky)

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/environment/ ... uality.pdf

Re Diageo - we can read the SEPA report tomorrow, and put any newspaper "sensationalism" into its proper perspective.
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