Hospitality is not immune and pubs are going to have to play their part on the sustainability front if we are all going to tackle the problem.
The wider hospitality sector, of which pubs are a crucial part, employs more than 3.2m people. The significant size of the sector and the kind of businesses we boast means we are on the front line in the increasingly important battle for sustainability. There has been an increase in the scrutiny now regularly being placed on venues and our customer-base feels increasingly passionate about the issue.
Leading the way
With ecological disasters dominating the news, this is also an area in which policy makers in Westminster and the devolved governments are going to want to appear to act decisively in the near future, so it is important we stay ahead of any potentially restrictive legislation that may arise. There can be no question about pubs, bars and the whole of the hospitality industry missing the bus when it comes to sustainability.
The good news is that hospitality businesses are certainly doing their part and looking to lead the way. Sustainability is an area in which we can take pride in significant progress in recent years. In 2018, UKHospitality signed WRAP’s Plastic Pact, a business collaboration aimed at cutting plastic waste. In the same year, we also partnered with the British Institute of Innkeeping to spearhead a sector-wide packaging event: Unpack the Future of Hospitality, addressing the issue of packaging waste in hospitality. Our members and the wider sector appear to have risen to the challenge by voluntarily cutting back on single-use plastic, removing items such as straws and rolling out schemes to encourage customers to support their schemes by bringing reusable cups. Where single-use plastic was ubiquitous, there has been a fundamental change in the way that businesses and consumers think, and much of that change in attitude can be traced to venues voluntarily cutting back and educating customers.
UKHospitality has also partnered with Green Tourism to ensure sustainability is at the heart of both the hospitality and tourism sectors. Green Tourism’s online sustainable management tool, GreenCheck, enables thousands of businesses to confirm they are hitting targets. So, you can check your own results and adjust your practices if needed or promote your credentials if you are hitting targets.
Nobody will shout about how pubs are helping to promote sustainability if we don’t do it ourselves. To combat the unfair, negative perceptions of our industry, we will need the correct support from policy makers, but we also need to improve at publicising ourselves when we do a good job.