What have we learned about sustainability?

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Where can pubs find resources about sustainability?

Related tags Social responsibility Multi-site pub operators Pubco + head office

Three months on from launching a dedicated initiative around sustainability, we’ve rounded up what we’ve learned so far.

We launched the Green Initiative​, supported by Molson Coors Beverage Company and Brewfitt in July, to help highlight the benefits and opportunities being more environmentally friendly can have on business.

This followed a survey of The Morning Advertiser ​readers, which found more than three quarters (77%) of participants believed the sector wasn’t environmentally friendly enough.

The majority (92%) of those surveyed said they did take sustainability into account within their business with many (88%) having changed their lighting, while around four in 10 (43%) had installed energy saving cellar equipment and more than a third (37%) had energy saving kitchen equipment.

When asked why they were reducing energy usage, perhaps unsurprisingly the top reason was to save money (88%) however, 35% said it was to maintain relationships with local suppliers.

We spoke with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) managing director Juliane Caillouette Noble about the importance of local sourcing​.

The SRA boss outlined how businesses can improve their sourcing ethos, including knowing about their supply chains on a farm level as well as remaining flexible.

She said: “Start building your menus to be a little bit more adaptive. Say your roast is going to come with seasonal veg rather than saying it will always come with carrots and peas.

“This can allow you to really make use of those gluts that happened during seasons. If your farm has loads of cabbage, this means you’re then able to drive down the cost of cabbage because they have got loads of it to get rid of.

“By adapting your menu to make sure you’re able to serve that cabbage instead of peas on that dish.”

Top tips

Shining a light

Brewfitt managing director Curtis Paxman said: "The Green Initiative is a campaign that shines a spotlight on sustainability within the hospitality industry, highlighting the complexities behind “going green” and the challenges the industry faces. Through this campaign, whether it is food waste, lighting, heating or dispense it has become evident that sustainability presents fresh opportunities and advantages for the industry, all while contributing to the broader sustainability goals set for this sector.

"Importantly, sustainability need not be a burdensome expense; rather, it emerges as a savvy investment that businesses should readily embrace. This investment has the dual benefit of reducing costs and bolstering competitiveness, offering a strategic advantage in today's market.

"One key takeaway from the campaign is that sustainability doesn't necessitate compromises in product or service quality. It represents a win-win approach, delivering advantages both to businesses and the environment. In an era where consumers actively seek out venues and companies with robust green credentials, the appeal of sustainability is unmistakable. It has evolved into a strategic imperative, helping businesses attract and retain environmentally conscious customers.

"At Brewfitt, as a key solutions provider, we are ready to help businesses in achieving sustainable dispense solutions. Our focus is on helping the industry meet their sustainability targets through our product innovation and technical expertise, for which we are well known. Whether you're envisioning a dispense installation or embarking on a project, we are here to provide the necessary support.
"In conclusion, adopting sustainability in the hospitality sector offers a range of benefits. It helps reduce costs, ensures the quality of products and services, and aligns with consumer preferences. The Green Initiative has served as a valuable resource, offering insights into achieving a more sustainable and efficient future for businesses."

Championing local is something of firm focus at the Riverside at Aymestrey in Herefordshire – a pub that has been lauded for its green credentials.

Chef-patron Andy Link revealed how and why the pub has been known for its sustainable ethos as part of a special podcast episode​.

In the episode, we also heard from the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) chief executive Steve Alton for his take on how the industry is performing with being environmentally friendly after the trade body launched a new award that aims to look at recognising pubs driving sustainable change.

Furthermore, we had advice from Zero Carbon Forum founder and CEO Mark Chapman who gave top tips on reducing your carbon footprint.

On the subject of advice, we also had pointers on how to integrate sustainability onto pub menus.

One Kent-based gastropub looks to use an entire animal can help cut waste and help financially.

Marc Bridgen of the Dog at Wingham said: “For any business, sustainability and financial gains have to go hand in hand.

“We take a very firm view on waste because of the financial impact. We are at the tail end of lamb season where we have had whole lambs in, we butcher them and do nose to tail.

“It is incredibly sustainable, there’s no waste and it’s a real financial bullet.”

Fellow gastropub operator Nina Matsunaga highlighted how she puts sustainability-based initiatives in place at her venue – the Black Bull in Sedbergh, Cumbria as part of our dedicated webinar.

Consumer data

Moreover, Punch Pubs and Greene King revealed their environmental, sustainability and governance policies.

We also heard from insight experts Lumina Intelligence who showed what was going on with meat-free dishes on menus and how pubgoers viewed sustainability.

If you missed out on the dedicated webinar the first time around, you can still catch up on it here​.

In fact, the importance of being more environmentally friendly to consumers​ was something we delved into further with Lumina research showing vegetable-based dishes grew in their share of pub occasion with many operators adding new items on menus to tap into this growing demand.

In addition, data from YouGov, which polled around 2,000 UK adults, asked if environmental sustainability played a part in their decisions when it came to food.

Some 41% said a fair amount – up a little from the same question being asked in 2019 when 39% gave that answer.

Looking at a different part of sustainability, we addressed the use of plastic in the sector​. The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance had top tips on cutting plastic waste.

This included packaging reviews, engaging suppliers in sustainability efforts as well as communication with teams.

From managing waste inside the pub to looking at encouraging wildlife into the outside​ space, we looked at how to make your garden more nature-friendly.

This included keeping an area wild, creating a ready-made home for creatures, providing water for a range of species as well as composting garden waste to help wildlife and plants.

Just last month (August), we also delved into the pros and cons of installing solar panels​, hearing first hand from operators that have the alternative energy.

  • The Morning Advertiser launched the Green Initiative, supported by Molson Coors Beverage Company and Brewfitt.

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