The environmental policy at The Scotch Whisky Experience
As part of our commitment to sustainability and green tourism, we are assessed under the Green Tourism scheme, the leading sustainable tourism certification scheme in the UK. This covers People (health & wellbeing, community, equality and diversity) , Place (experiences, food & drink and biodiversity) and Planet (energy, waste, water, carbon and chemicals). We are delighted to hold a Gold award and are working hard to make positive actions every day to do more across all of these goals.
We are on a journey to become more environmentally friendly and putting sustainability at the core of all of our decisions and actions. In pursuit of our mission statement to provide a world class visitor attraction to promote the enjoyment of Scotch whisky, we know that our operations have an effect on the local, regional and global environment.
You can read our environmental policy here, and discover more about how we implement our commitments through our company values.
We are committed to reducing our carbon by 15% by 2028. This is reviewed annually with a view to pushing targets upwards.
Our ultimate goal is to enable our customers to shop more sustainably. It is our aim to eliminate plastic. In order to achieve this, we have brought in a number of new suppliers, and will now always choose the most sustainable option above any other commercial considerations. We consider how our suppliers package their product for delivery to us, the products themselves, and how we, in turn, package the products for our customers.
We also give our customers the tools to make an informed choice when selecting their gifts and souvenirs from us. We have introduced new “green signage” indicating that a product is sustainable, and “blue signage” indicating that the product is made here in Scotland.
Find out more about what our retail team have been up to behind the scenes to make our shop become a more sustainable shopping destination on our recent blog.
The Scotch Whisky Experience has a variety of reception rooms catering for up to 150 delegates.
We are working hard to make positive changes in our Events business. Some of the things we do are listed below:
- Tap water is now used in recycled glass bottles instead of bottled water for our meetings and events delegates.
- White boards are offered in our meeting spaces which can be reused instead of flip charts so there is no paper wastage.
- We don’t offer stationery in our meeting rooms.
- We have removed all Christmas crackers and ‘one-use’ tableware from our Christmas events and now have wooden decorations which we will use year on year.
- We are located within the city centre with no parking available in close proximity. We know that the majority of our events delegates arrive to the city by bus/train or walk here.
- We source our food locally as much as we can. Please see our Scottish menus here.
- We are proud to serve Fairtrade, organic and Rainforest Alliance approved coffee.
- Our Scottish shortbread is from a local, family-owned producer which is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative.
- Our high-quality recycling partnership means that where paper and glass usage during an event cannot be reduced, we will send it to be re-used or repurposed, supporting the local and circular economy.
- If a gift is requested for event delegates, we are delighted to source beautiful Scottish-made gifts, engraved with the conference or business logo.
We are delighted to showcase the best of Scotland’s sustainable and progressive whisky producers for delegates in order to finish their event or conference meetings in style. Our Sustainable Whisky Tasting takes guests on an incredible journey delving into Scotland’s national drink and the many ways in which it supports Scotland’s communities and environment.
- We hope to soon have sensors in our toilets whereby the lights will switch on when someone enters.
- Foam soap will be introduced which requires less water to be used than liquid soap.
- We plan to design insect and wildlife hotels to aid biodiversity. These amazing little power boxes can house up to 10 species. We would love to provide a home for our insect friends in the little outdoor space that we have.
- Move forward with our carbon reduction goals and actions for carbon balance.
From August 2023, we will be making a monthly donation to the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Protecting Peatlands project. This is part of our efforts to balance the carbon which is produced by our business. We are committed to reducing carbon every year and will continue to support this important work in this beautiful and rich Scottish ecosystem which is so closely connected to Scotch whisky and its culture.
We have renewed our contract with SSE, who have given us the guarantee that 100% of the energy comes from renewable sources. SSE supply our building from the ground up, taking in our tour, shop, events space and offices. Details can be found here.
In May we sent out a travel poll to staff. We are delighted to report that 91.5% of our staff either walk, cycle or use public transport to get to work here on Castlehill.
New in our retail department are beautiful earrings, handmade using a recycled whisky bottle, porcelain, and sterling silver. These earrings have been created by the winner of 2023s ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down’ Lois Gunn, who is an artist, jeweller and ceramicist living and working in Kent, UK. The whisky bottle was supplied by The Scotch Whisky Experience and beautifully repurposed to create these unique earrings.
Please see our sustainable shopping blog piece here for all that is new in our retail department! We have also updated what has been going on in our Events department above.
We have set up a new energy monitoring and management project allowing us to better understand our energy usage and make smart and tactical decisions to reduce both electricity and gas.
Through supplier engagement we have reduced the delivery packaging for lots of our shop and bar stock. More of our food gift suppliers have now moved to compostable or biodegradable packaging.
Delighted to share that we now have our bubble wrap replacement, Hexcel wrap. All bottles and fragile goods purchased in-store or on our online whisky and gift shop will now be wrapped in Hexcel wrap, a 100% sustainable and recyclable material. A great step forward!
Our beautiful floral window boxes at the front of our building now have bee friendly plants! Our supplier, Fleurtations Plantscapes have done an amazing job with our request to create new bee friendly planting for summer! We are delighted to say we have indeed spotted a few bees buzzing around!
Our retail team recently met with a new packaging company to discuss sustainable alternatives for our retail packaging solutions. The immediate priority is to replace bubble wrap and plastic postal bags for our online shop orders, with a longer-term goal to use only sustainable utilities going forward.
The team are also in discussion with one of our chocolate suppliers and we hope to replace the current plastic bag that is used with a bespoke box, and bio-based film inner. We are excited to be working with the supplier and hope to see mock up designs soon.
Autumn / Winter 2021
Our events and hospitality team have switched flip charts for white boards to save paper and help all our clients to undertake their planning work at meetings with zero waste. Clickshare technology in our beautiful rooms, with cleverly hidden screens and tech, allow you to cast snaps of your white boards to the screen before wiping clear for the next topic. Little measures like this make a difference and will reduce our paper recycling from the department by 90% each year!
Our IT & Facilities department have had a pre-Christmas clear out and amnesty for any broken tech equipment around the building. Working with the brilliant CCL North Edinburgh we are delighted that NOTHING will be sent to landfill, with repurposing, repairs and reconditioning.
We have introduced a new collection of upcycled gifts into our whisky and gift shop. Our supplier KAPDAA, the offcut company, is a UK-based textiles business that gives waste material a second lease of life. We had a pile of kilts which were no longer being worn by our staff and in partnership with KAPDAA we have repurposed these items, starting with a new line of notebooks made from the recycled kilts.
We are working on projects to reduce plastic throughout the business and audit all of our single use items.
We have signed up to the Refill app so that people know it’s not just the “water of life” that we serve, but we’ll also happily fill up water bottles to anyone who pops in. (Bottles are strictly filled with water only, not whisky!)
Every week we’ll add a new distillery’s ecological and sustainability story to our Distillery page and share these great practices with our visitors and online audience.
Much more is also happening – too much to tell here!