Legal advice: Improve your pub's carbon footprint

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Carbon footprint, Carbon dioxide

The recent Budget has made it very clear that we all need to understand the contribution our carbon footprint is making to global warming and the...

The recent Budget has made it very clear that we all need to understand the contribution our carbon footprint is making to global warming and the impact on global sustainability our individual and collective actions have.

We're beginning to use new terminology and I suspect few of us know what it means! As with all new theories and science there is great contradiction - scientists can't agree, politicians can't agree and the environmental lobby has different priorities and so forth.

I thought I'd try and clarify some of the issues and terminology and suggest some actions which the pub industry can take to improve its 'carbon footprint'.


Carbon footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.

Carbon neutral means carbon dioxide emissions have been measured and reductions identified and the remaining emissions have been offset through carbon projects.

Biodivesity means the variety of life; the total variety of life on earth, including all genes, species and ecosystems and the ecological processes of which they are part.

Sustainability means to hold up, to bear, to support, to provide for, to keep going.

Global warming is the warming up of the world's temperature and the consequences it will bring.

Offsetting is a way of compensating for the emissions of carbon dioxide produced with an equivalent carbon dioxide saving.

Armed with a clearer understanding of what it's all about we can start to consider what contribution we can make to improving the global environment. It's also worth noting that following many green initiatives will actually benefit your bottom line - cutting your fuel bills, for instance.

It can all be a bit daunting and you won't achieve everything in one go but if we all change one thing, bit by bit, the benefits will grow.

Consider your business operation - look at it dispassionately and objectively to identify the good and bad practices. What can you change to reduce your carbon footprint? What can you do to encourage your staff, suppliers and customers to contribute? Nobody will want to come to a pub to be preached at but consistent small changes can have a great impact.

Recycling and waste

Each year the retail sector produces an estimated 12 million tonnes of waste at a cost of over £360m. Implementing measures to reduce your waste is both good environmental practice and good business practice.

Try to prevent waste from occurring in the first place - examine the products and goods you use. Could you make do with less packaging? If so, talk to your supplier. Ask them to take their packaging back to their depot. Can delivery boxes be re-useable plastic? Could you buy items in bulk or in larger sizes - for example, a ready-prepared product with eight to 10 portions instead of eight to 10 separate, individual packs?

Can you separate the waste so that it can be collected for recycling - waste card and paper; polythene and plastic wrappings; metals; glass; plastic bottles; magazines and glossy brochures; building materials; textiles?

Can items be re-used? Remember the saying - one man's junk is another man's fortune. Look out for free re-cycling clubs run by local councils often known as 'freecycle' schemes.


A tap dripping just two drops per second will lose you nearly 10,000 litres (2,200 gallons) of water a year - money that is literally down the drain.

  • Survey all your taps. If any are dripping change washers to make sure they turn off properly. Consider changing the type of tap to automatic ones. Fit self-closing push taps which can reduce water use by 50 per cent.
  • Use posters to remind people to turn off taps.
  • Consider fitting water displacement devices in toilet cisterns. They can reduce water usage by up to three litres per flush.
  • Reprogramme automatic flushing devices at urinals to flush less frequently.
  • Only use dishwashers and glasswashers when they have a full load.


Energy represents a huge cost to both businesses and individuals and its use is the greatest contributor to global warming. You can make considerable savings if you improve energy use.

  • Review your heating systems. Can you turn temperature controls down by just one to two degrees? Turn timer clocks to go off 30 minutes earlier or to come on later. Have you obstructed radiators or heating vents thus preventing heat circulating? Has the boiler been serviced?
  • Reset air conditioning temperatures. Consider low-energy lightbulbs in appropriate locations. Better still, use infra-red light sensors (or equivalent) which put the lights on when someone walks by - these can be very effective in the cellar, stockrooms and staffrooms.

None of the above involve major expenditure or huge changes in habits yet if we all did some of them our carbon footprint as an industry will be significantly smaller.

Related topics: Legislation

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