Green light

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Related tags: Carbon trust, Carbon footprint

Lucy Britner looks at simple ideas to help make your business greener According to the song, it's not that easy being green. Shelling out for...

Lucy Britner looks at simple ideas to

help make your business greener

According to the song, it's not that easy being green. Shelling out for energy-efficient equipment, ensuring you only stock fish from sustainable sources, having differently coloured bins for every type of rubbish, cutting down on food miles and still giving customers what they want at a price they can afford, isn't easy. But it's not all doom and gloom. You can be green without breaking the pub's bank - in fact, there's a serious amount of money to be saved on improving your green credentials.

Since October 2007, waste contractors have had to minimise the amount of waste sent to landfill sites, through sorting and recycling. According to Envirowise, a Government-led organisation helping businesses become greener, landfill tax rates will double to £48 per tonne by 2011. This will increase the cost of

disposal. Envirowise suggests having different bins for different waste streams — paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, food waste. Then, determine your top three priorities by volume.

Sous chef Clare Mitchell says this system has worked really well for the kitchen at Acorn House — the environmentally-friendly restaurant in London's Kings Cross.

"It's surprising how quickly this becomes habit," she says.

"I suppose one of the main issues for pubs is space — our restaurant was designed with this in mind."

A space and energy-saving initiative from Acorn includes not having a walk-in fridge. "We just buy in everything fresh every day and use the fridges under our work stations," explains Clare.

Acorn House also runs a training scheme for young chefs, including instruction on running an

environmentally aware kitchen.

Acorn's new sister restaurant the Water House, in Shoreditch, is taking the concept of sustainability to the next level by using canal water to heat the restaurant in winter and cool it in summer. Roof-mounted solar panels will heat the water, while water used in the kitchens will be recycled to help flush the toilets and water the vegetable garden — which itself is fed from an advanced composting system.

Cooking is powered by hydro-electricity, hydro-carbon fridges reduce energy consumption and drinking water is filtered in-house as an alternative to bottled supplies. Care is taken to source supplies as locally as possible to reduce delivery miles.

Clare adds: "We ensure none of our imported produce comes by air. We didn't really go to any great lengths to do this — it's just a case of talking to suppliers to see what their policies are."

These might not seem practical solutions for many pubs, but lots of energy-efficient equipment is available to caterers.

The Energy Technology List (ETL) details products deemed environmentally friendly by the Carbon Trust.

Did you know you can get tax breaks when you buy energy-efficient equipment? The Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme means businesses can write off the whole capital cost of investment in these products against their taxable profits for the period during which they make the investment - basically, you could save up to £30 on every £100 spent. According to research by equipment company Gram, three-quarters of 600 hospitality workers surveyed didn't know tax breaks are on offer to help them become greener.

The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) says energy efficiency has to be a key consideration when a business is sourcing equipment.

CESA director Keith Warren says: "For most pub chefs, energy is the

second-highest operating cost after labour. The upward trend in gas, electricity and water costs means that the savings through the careful choice of kitchen equipment can easily repay the cost of the new product — and the savings start from day one.

"One thing is certain — the per-unit costs of utilities will not reduce," says Keith.

Visit www.cesa.org.uk for more information.

Carbon footprints

Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises (S&NPE) is working with the Carbon Trust to produce a design guide, which will set out the company's approach to sustainable design and construction. The company is also producing a booklet for its lessees, explaining some simple steps they can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

S&NPE head of marketing Matthew Woodward says: "From October, all pubs we sell, let or build will have to have Energy Performance Certificates. We decided the time was right to not only look after the environment, but also help our lessees save money."

The design guide will be the basis of all refurbishments carried out by S&NPE.

"We aim to implement this on 120 projects a year," says project and building manager Mike Pope. "The Carbon Trust estimates we will save around 3221 tons of carbon."

The guide includes buying equipment included in the Energy Technology List, cutting down on solvent content in materials such as MDF and using sustainable timber.

The pub-specific lessee-tips booklet, offers practical advice and launches this summer.

Wine miles

With the trend to reduce food miles, some operators are also looking to reduce their wine miles. Salisbury Inns has started to stock only Old World wines.

Director of the home counties-based pubco David Salisbury says: "European wines are diverse enough to offer you everything you need. We try to source our food locally wherever possible, and wanted to do the same with our wine. Customers are becoming more conscientious and it was more a case of the dog wagging its tail than the tail wagging the dog."

An increasing number of licensees are also stocking English wines. Orchid Pub Company has launched an initiative aimed at increasing sales of English wines and the number of trees in English woodlands. Through its "Woodland Wednesdays" campaign, the pubco plans to help plant trees in English woodlands every time English Wine is purchased on a Wednesday. Every £5,000 raised will enable one acre of trees to be planted. English wines on offer include Chapel Down and Bacchus.

Kitchen gardens

Meanwhile, a Marston's pub has found an innovative way to source local produce — customers bring their own home-grown fruit and veg.

Barr Prithard, licensee at the Red Hart, Kington, Worcestershire, launched the scheme to make local, seasonal sourcing easier — and the pub has just received its first asparagus crop.

Barr says: "Everyone has extra fruit and vegetables in the garden during the growing season, so rather than throwing it on compost pile or into the freezer, clean up the extra, bring it to the pub and we'll cook it for you."

When customers trade in their produce, the pub will grade and weight it and give them a credit voucher for the pub, based on that day's market price.

Kitchen gardens are another good way of cutting food miles and capitalising on the local food trend. The Felin Fach Griffin, in Powys, Wales, has had a kitchen garden for four years, which was certified as organic in 2007. Owners Charles and Edmund Inkin spent two years complying with Welsh Organic Scheme Standards.

Edmund says: "This year's coldish spring means we are a bit behind where we'd hope to be at the moment, but the broad beans are not too far away and I think we'll have a very good pea crop. Later this year, some of the more interesting things we are looking forward to are asparagus peas, chervil root, Cambridge late pine strawberries and some small green Paris gherkins, which we will pickle and sell at our bar."

The garden doesn't have the scale to meet all the pub's fruit and vegetable requirements and Edmund says they are happy to source between 30% and 50% through the peak growing season, with the balance coming from other local suppliers.

He adds: "We like to work within the structure of organic certification. Customers do feel comfortable with the traceability of organic goods, which have demonstrable health benefits.

"The real advantage of having a kitchen garden is th

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