Heading up our retail team, here at The Scotch Whisky Experience, is Lucy Hawk-Walker. Together with our Operations Director, Angela Dineen, they are paving the way to offering our customers more sustainable shopping choices. There’s lots of work still to do, we don’t doubt that, but it feels like we are off to a good start.
Our ultimate goal and ethos is for our customers to shop more sustainably. It is our aim to be as far away from using plastic as possible. In order to achieve this, we have brought in a number of new suppliers, and will now always choose the most sustainable option. 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 both on-site and online.
We also give our customers the tools to make an informed choice when selecting their gifts and souvenirs from us. We have introduced new in-store signage with “green signage” indicating that a product is sustainable and “blue signage” indicating that the product was made here in Scotland.
We caught up with Lucy and asked her the top 10 things that have been introduced lately to help us become a more sustainable shopping destination, and this is what she said:
- Our carrier bags have moved from non-recyclable plastic to 100% recycled plastic and they are also 100% recyclable.
- Plastic sampling cups have been replaced with compostable (vegware) cups which our distilling partners use on-site when conducting whisky samplings.
- Cocoa Ooze, one of our chocolate suppliers, who provide individual chocolates for us to match with whiskies now supply their chocolate in compostable and biodegradable packaging.
- All of our online orders are now sent out in Hexcel wrap, instead of bubble wrap. We use paper tape, instead of plastic to package up the boxes. If extra padding is required, we now use shredded cardboard.
- We are limiting the packaging for items delivered to us. For example, some whisky companies now supply us with “naked” bottles of whisky for use in our bars, or for our sampling sessions, where the packaging (box, carton or tin) is not necessary. Some of our suppliers now use corn starch packaging which is a huge plus for us.
- Our notepads are made from our upcycled kilt uniforms!
- Our honey, supplied by The Scottish Bee Company, donates 10p from every unit sold to their sister charity, Repollinate.org.uk that aims to increase pollination through educational programmes and wildflower projects. They started this off by giving bees to bee farmers across Scotland in order to help them. They have so far increased bee numbers by 23 million!
- Darach, our whisky stave supplier, only use vintage spent barrels for their decorative homewares.
- Our ceramicist also only uses spent oak staves for her stunning vase and stave creations.
- And, of course, our whisky. Our distillers are working hard to hit their net zero targets, click here to learn about our sustainable distilleries.
- We will soon have a new cuddly toy range including Highland Coos and sheep made from 100% recycled water bottles! (We can’t wait to have them on our shelves)
- We are currently replacing our plastic point of sale signage and instead of these going to landfill, we will offer these to other businesses to be reused before we recycle them.
And finally, a Q+A with Lucy, Head of Retail. Read on to find out more about our unique and sustainable products that we have for sale to how we have been reducing our packaging.
1. What would you say is the most uniquely sustainable product that you have for sale?
I’d say our notepads. They are made from our old uniforms! We had our tartan kilts recycled and made into the covers for notepads. A brilliant company called KAPDAA created them for us. They are a multi-award winning, sustainable fashion brand who collaborate with designers, mills and brands to convert their fabric offcuts into eco-friendly accessories and stationery. So far, they have saved over 10,000 meters from going to landfill.
2. You mentioned that some products are made from vintage spent staves, where do they come from?
Our whisky cask tasting staves are hand made in Inverness by a company called Darach. They are made using vintage oak whisky barrels, sourced from Highland and Speyside distilleries. These staves once formed a barrel in which Scotch whisky was matured.
3. What steps have you taken to reduce the packaging to provide more sustainable options?
Our carrier bags are now made from 100% recycled plastic and are 100% recyclable. This is a significant move for us from previously having non-recyclable carrier bags. All of our online shop orders are wrapped in Hexcel wrap, rather than bubble wrap, and we now use paper tape, rather than plastic tape. Shredded cardboard is also used if more padding is needed.
4. What changes have you noticed from suppliers in their efforts to becoming more sustainable through their own packaging?
Some of our suppliers now use corn starch packaging which is biodegradable. We are able to now purchase some whisky from our suppliers without whisky boxes/containers. If this whisky is for used for our samplings and tastings or in our bars we do not need the gift style packaging. One of our chocolate suppliers now uses compostable and biodegradable packaging. Our honey supplier only uses recycled and recyclable packaging.
5. What in your opinion is one of the most innovative products you now have in stock?
Not quite yet in stock, but soon to be is our new cuddly toy range. We will have a Highland Coo and a sheep made from 100% recycled water bottles. They are so soft to touch and are absolutely adorable!
Big thanks to Lucy for giving us this insight and updating us on where we are on our sustainable shopping journey – we can’t wait to hear of more sustainable products coming onto our shelves soon.