Tim Robinson and Vanessa Grove from the Rose and Crown near Faversham in Kent have one goal in 2008: to go green.
The traditional grade two listed 16th century country pub is tucked away in 150 acres of woodland and although the untouched beauty of the surrounding area is one of its big selling points, the location also makes it more difficult to find.
Tim and Vanessa have worked tirelessly over the past two years to put the Rose and Crown on the green map and if their hard work is rewarded, not only will the pub become the first in the UK to achieve the European Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) accreditation, but it will also further improve the overall customer experience at their establishment.
3663 First for Foodservice is at the forefront of green programmes for the foodservice sector and has pioneered a number of programmes over the past decade. The company recently became the first wholesale distributor to be listed in the Sunday Times Top 50 Best Green Companies and marketing controller Catherine Hinchcliff, provides some comment and expertise based on the Robinson's experience of sustainability and achieving green credentials.
An uphill waste battle
"We started looking at 'going green' in 2006 after we realised how much money we could save by looking at eco-issues. We delve deeper in the 'green pot' and the benefits just keep coming.
Initially we had problems in getting suppliers to offer greener services or produce alternatives. The hardest struggle was waste. When we asking about recycling, I drew a blank and it took 10 months to secure waste removal services that met our exact requirements," said Tim.
The Rose and Crown has virtually halved its annual waste bills with savings of more than £500 as a result of more considered business practices. The pub has also diverted 45% of their waste per week from landfill. It equates to more than 26,000 litres of waste being redirected to recycling.
Catherine says: "Going Green can be a massive challenge, and the Robinsons have done well to start with looking at their waste collection which is a key opportunity to make simple changes which do affect the bottom line. Energy can also be saved by remembering the three Rs - reduce, recycle and reuse. Encourage staff to monitor the energy used in your business, and to set targets to reduce it. Simple ideas like stickers and posters to remind staff to turn off equipment when it's not in use, and installing sensor lighting can be very effective."
Tim continues, "At the end of our first year we had spent £5421 on electricity and we introduced simple energy saving, common sense ideas. We only turned appliances on when required and never used standby modes. We defrosted freezers more regularly and checked seal quality. We slowly changed over to energy efficient light bulbs. As soon as we could, we switched to a green tariff where the supplier matches our annual spend and puts this into developing more green energy.
"It worked. It was simple, but it worked. By the end of our second year we had an 11.7% saving (£564 reduction) on our annual electricity bill."
Getting to grips with a green menu
One of the other main areas that came under the spotlight for Tim and Vanessa was their menu. Local sourcing became a priority for the pub and customers now enjoy locally caught game, free range chicken, Red Tractor certified meat products.
"We educate our customers about our food," says Tim. "Overall we have a much more locally-based, authentic and imaginative menu than before."
Catherine adds: "Product provenance hasn't dropped from consumer's agenda. If anything, local products are getting even more popular - the more provenance the better. Consumers are also looking for more reassurance about the authenticity of their food, given recent media reports of false statements on menus."
Tim and Vanessa have absolutely taken the best step by including a range of locally sourced products on their menu. Given that their pub is off the beaten track, it is important that the customer finds something that gets them talking and brings them back because they have enjoyed a food experience they can't find at any other local, more convenient eateries.
Tim and Vanessa have given them the reason to come back time and again to experience a new seasonal offering.
The question that this obviously raises for the average Publican reader is 'can locally sourced products easily be found and supplied?' The answer is yes. 3663 currently supply 563 products from 83 producers to customers in East Anglia, the South West, North Wales, Wales and Scotland with a Yorkshire launch happening this month and more ranges launching later this year. We will be speaking to Tim about local sourcing again at the end of the year when we extend our range to his region.
We share Tim's views and with 3663's extensive network we are able to make it more economic for pubs like the Rose and Crown to use local produce on their menus. People don't always consider the additional time factor when sourcing local produce and 3663 is able to streamline the delivery process, saving the customer time while simultaneously reducing road miles through consolidated deliveries.
Tim concludes: "I think, above all, it is important to tell your customer about what you do and how you do it. In turn they will hopefully go away with ideas on improving their own cooking with local produce, and on how to save energy and help the countryside.
Minimise road miles
Using a large number of suppliers can result in more deliveries from more vehicles, as well as an increase in food miles and carbon emissions. By consolidating more of the products you buy on a single delivery you can not only reduce the time, administration and costs involved, but also reduce the cost to the environment.
3663's deliveries can help. Orders are consolidated to reduce the number of trucks on the road, and ensure all products arrive in one delivery. 3663 trucks also feature energy saving refrigeration systems, and 60% of the fleet run on a standard diesel and biodiesel mix.
Waste vegetable oil put to good use
3663 collects waste vegetable oil from pubs and caterers for free*. By working with collection company Arrow and oil recycling company Converts2Green, 3663 produces biodiesel, which has clear environmental benefits and is in turn used to fuel its trucks, closing the environmental loop. Contact 3663 on telephone 0870 3663 000 to become part of the collection programme.
*No collection fee charge for amounts over 80 litres.