Going solar just part of a comprehensive environmental roadmap

Pernod Ricard Winemakers made a major statement about its commitment to the environment in January 2017 when it announced plans for a new 1.5 MW solar PV installation in the Barossa Valley.

It is almost certainly the largest private solar array in South Australia and will be used to power wineries at Rowland Flat and Richmond Grove, where the company produces a range of wines, including the world-famous Jacob’s Creek and Wyndham Estate brands.

Solar is only part of its sustainability success story, however. In 2010 it released a 2020 Environmental Roadmap setting out a comprehensive plan to improve environmental performance across the board, from vineyard through to production and packaging.

Halfway down the road, impressive progress has been made – by the end of 2015 electricity use was down by 25%, water use by 20% and waste to landfill by a dramatic 63%. Just as importantly, a targeted approach has brought with it a culture focused on continuous improvement.

That was formally recognised during 2016 when Pernod Ricard Winemakers received an award for environmental leadership from the SA Wine Industry Association (SAWIA).

“The fact that all these initiatives are contained within a 10-year roadmap ensures the programs are sustainable and become part of the business,” said Global Operations Director Brett McKinnon.

“Sustainability linked KPIs are embedded in the business and reported monthly to ensure they are on track. Monthly, annual and 2020 targets are agreed and communicated to the business. Any deviations from the targets are readily identifiable and remedies to correct the situation are investigated. The coordinated process has ensured the gradual maturing of our programs and the steps over the next four years are clearly laid out and communicated.”

Overall success has come from the sum of many parts. For example, consolidating the load from two refrigeration plants reduced the electricity required to run the plant by 27%, while using lightweight bottles for six million cases of wine directly reduced CO2 emissions by 7500 tonnes.

Elsewhere the company is taking targeted steps to save water, reuse treated water where possible (including an innovative arrangement with a local golf course) and is seeking to treat its wastewater anaerobically to minimise possible environmental impact and generate energy onsite from biogas production.

Recycling also is a priority. At Rowland Flat Winery, what can’t be segregated for recycling is transported to a specialised recycler for further recovery. Any remaining material is then incinerated at high temperatures to generate electricity. The resulting ash is incorporated into cement, meaning nothing goes to landfill.

The company operates an integrated business management system approach based on international standards, including ISO 14001 for Environmental Management and Greenhouse Gas Inventory Management ISO 14064.

Where possible, Pernod Ricard Winemakers shares its knowledge with others in the wine industry or with local organisations, and works closely with like-minded groups, including the local Natural Resource Management Board.

Many initiatives also have a direct impact on the local community, notably the work done over many years to enhance the land and biodiversity in the Jacob’s Creek precinct. This work is aligned with the State Government’s Resilient Landscape program and native corridor work driven by Barossa Grape and Wine Association.

“We have engaged with landowners and encouraged them to get involved with these programs,” Brett said “This has been consistent with the broader target of establishing native wildlife corridors from Altona Conservation Nature Reserve, along the Para River, up various tributaries to Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park in the Eden Valley region; one of the most important of these corridors is Jacob’s Creek.

“Similarly we have worked with the community and facilitated tree planting projects over a number of years, most notably for National Rivers Day. Many of these plantings are well established and becoming mature trees.”