Scream if you're green

Related tags St austell brewery Environmentalism Environment

Turning off your lights when you don't need them, turning down your thermostat a notch and switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs… the commercial...

Turning off your lights when you don't need them, turning down your thermostat a notch and switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs… the commercial benefits of energy-saving speak for themselves.

But have you thought about the PR benefits of 'going green'?

A new study suggests that putting green measures in place will not only save you money and save the environment - it will bring more customers through your doors too, if you communicate what you are doing.

Exclusive research carried out for The Publican ahead of a major new campaign launching next month suggests more and more pub-goers want to see pubs wearing their green credentials on their sleeves. More than three out of four (77 per cent) pub customers say that if a pub has failed to make any attempt to improve its environmental impact they will think again about whether to go there.

And more than nine out of 10 pub customers (91 per cent) say that, faced with a choice between a pub that has attempted to improve its environmental impact and one which hasn't, they would opt to visit the 'greener' business.

Major brewers including Adnams, Shepherd Neame and St Austell Brewery have taken steps towards more environmentally friendly production, with the Good Beer Guide 2009 praising them for "helping the environment and putting something back into their communities".

Yet worryingly, fewer than half of consumers (47 per cent) think the pub industry is currently doing enough to act responsibly on the environment - and 78 per cent want to see pubs doing more.

The messages are simple. Pubs have got to do more for the environment - and they've got to tell people about it too.

A unique selling point

One pub that is well aware of this is the Rose & Crown in Perry Wood, near Faversham in Kent. The pub - familiar to Publican readers following our Sell More, Save More project - recently became one of only a handful in the country to pick up a silver Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) award, after putting a string of 'green' measures in place.

Licensee Tim Robinson described the award, and the pub's environmentally friendly status, as "a unique selling point" to customers.

"This was part of the reason I did it," he said. "Customers do find us on the internet, and word does get around. Nowadays more and more people care about the green aspects and it does help."

Tim said he had been a little cynical about the way he approached the green agenda, realising it would be great PR when he began making changes to the business.

Measures included recycling all his glass and cardboard for the first time, and switching to a green energy tariff where supplier EDF matches the pub's annual spend and puts it into developing more green energy.

"It all made sound business sense. The costs I've saved have been unbelievable," said Tim. "I've halved our waste bill from £1,180 to £638 by recycling all our glass and cardboard."

Another licensee who can see the benefits is Clare McKay of the Sharksfin in Mevagissey, Cornwall - a St Austell Brewery managed house which also picked up a silver GTBS award this year.

Clare said more and more people were commenting on the award as they came into the pub, and she was sure it had helped with repeat business."People who are interested in green issues think it's absolutely marvellous - I've had a lot of feedback," she said.

"People are really happy that we use sustainable fish, free-range chicken and lots of local produce. It's great PR, it's on our website and it's on the GTBS website. Some people have definitely seen it from there and come in. We're going to start doing questionnaires soon to see exactly how many people are actually visiting the pub because of the award."

Brewing up the savings

Sharksfin owner St Austell Brewery was among brewers praised in the latest CAMRA Good Beer Guide for showing their concern for the environment.

The brewer's moves to energy efficiency include managing director James Staughton swapping his executive 'Mercedes' for a 'Smart Car', the installation of a new steam boiler, and the replacement of a malt mill dating from 1916, which was only 55 per cent efficient, with one with 85 per cent efficiency. The brewer will be installing its own bottling line in 2009.

Other brewers praised included Shepherd Neame in Kent, which has worked hard to stop carbon dioxide escaping into the atmosphere, and Suffolk-based Adnams, which invested £5.8m in a new warehouse that uses solar power and rainwater.

And Adnams has wasted little time in communicating its green status to pub customers - with the launch of what it described as "the UK's first carbon-neutral beer" East Green.

If more publicans can take a green leaf out of the brewers' book - and work hard on both making and communicating their own green changes - it might just help get more customers through the door. N?

Go Green - Save Money with The Publican

Our consumer research has laid the groundwork for a major new campaign launching across The Publican and next month.

We'll be offering masses of ideas and inspiration for how you can 'go green' in your pub - and save some serious money in the process.

But we want your support, and your stories about how you've put green measures in place with positive results.

Contact The Publican on 020 7955 3710 or email

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