Scots firm to axe 80 jobs as Diageo ditches boxes in whisky eco drive

EIGHTY jobs are set to be axed at a packaging firm after drinks giant Diageo ditched whisky boxes as part of an eco drive.

It’s understood Diageo – makers of Johnnie Walker – want to go greener and ditch cardboard gift boxes for their iconic brands.

Diageo is looking to ditch the whisky's packaging as part of an eco drive
Diageo is looking to ditch the whisky’s packaging as part of an eco drive Credit: Getty – Contributor
Westrock - who make the packaging - will have to let staff go
Westrock – who make the packaging – will have to let staff go Credit: Getty

But this has led to redundancy plans at the WestRock plant in East Kilbride, which makes sustainable packaging.

Westrock – headquartered in Atlanta, USA – confirmed 80 jobs are on the line and staff consultations are underway.

A company spokesperson said “reductions of demand” for drinks packaging had led to the decision.

But a source said: “Everyone wants to help save the planet and do their bit but it always seems like it’s the little people who bear the brunt of these decisions.

“Westrock’s packaging is sustainable so surely that fits in with the green agenda?

“It’s a devastating blow for the workforce.”

The East Kilbride plant produces folding packaging for the wines and spirits industry, with Diageo understood to be its major client.

A spokesperson said: “I can confirm that WestRock has entered into a period of consultation with employees at its East Kilbride location which could lead to a potential reduction of 80 positions. 

“This facility produces sustainable packaging, such as folding cartons for the premium wines and spirits markets, in particular scotch whisky.  

“Reductions of demand for the packaging of this product are linked to the need to potentially eliminate these positions.”

A Diageo spokesperson said: “We have begun a programme to phase out the use of cardboard gift boxes from certain products in our portfolio.

“We are committed to becoming a zero waste business by 2030, and despite its ability to be recycled, increased demand for cardboard has led to shortages. 

“All of our supply partners were consulted throughout, and we have made several proposals to minimize the impact of any changes on them.”

Graham Simpson, a Conservative MSP for Central Scotland, branded the potential job losses “devastating”.

He said: “This is devastating news for those affected. The plant has been producing first class packaging for years now.

“This is a direct result of changing habits and demand as we strive to cut waste. I hope the company can find ways to adapt and that the affected workers can be helped to get new work.”