The road to Net Zero for pubs and bars just got easier

By Tom Tanner

The Culpeper in London’s Shoreditch was the venue for the launch of the Net Zero Pubs and Bars Initiative. Representatives from the creators of the initiative, Net Zero Now, development partners Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) GB and Pernod Ricard UK, one of the pub companies participating in the pilot, Peach Pubs, a government official and our good selves, the SRA who’re rolling it out across the sector.

Here’s a summary to help you understand what the initiative involves, who it’s for, why it matters, its accessibility and cost and how your pub or bar business can get involved.

Why do we need a Net Zero Pubs and Bars Initiative?

Simon Heppner, CEO of Net Zero Now and Co-Founder of the SRA explained: “We’re in a climate crisis. The next five years will be make or break and we need to get everyone on board. I’m more optimistic now than ever – and one of the big reasons for this is because Net Zero has captured the imagination of people and given us a common goal for us all to sign up to.

“The key message is, all businesses have to address the issue, we need to take action now and these tools mean it’s never been easier for businesses to engage.”

What’s it like for a pub business to go through the process?

Hamish Stoddart, Managing Director Peach Pub Company described Peach’s experience of going through the pilot programme and what he and his colleagues had learned.

“We didn’t have a clue where we were across our 19 pubs. To have someone lead us thought it in a simple way was very helpful and, intriguingly, it didn’t take that long. Some of the information is simple to collect while some, like how much meat you buy, is more challenging. The biggest challenge was making the data work. We worked on the platform together for stage one and you plug in the information and the answer comes out.

What advice would he give to other pub and bar businesses looking to get involved?

Hamish said that engaging his workforce is key to the success of the project.“It’s fundamental that the guys on the floor know what we are doing and all the confusion about Net Zero can then be taken away if we can educate them. They’re so excited about it. I like a target and that excites me and the team.”

There was consensus across the panel that businesses that engage with the principles that are important to their teams will do better when it comes to overcoming the recruitment crisis – both attracting and engaging quality staff.

How much does the Net Zero Pubs and Bars Initiative cost a business?

Simon explained that all the materials including the Protocol and the Climate Action Playbook are freely available on the website but that pubs and bars choosing to participate should expect to pay £400-500 per year for access to the guidance, tools and certification. Businesses looking for extra support and guidance can engage the SRA.

What off-setting measures are included and are they expensive?

The protocol includes a UK hospitality curated offset which speaks to the sector as it is focused on sustainable agriculture, reforestation and soil carbon sequestration. The pilot study established that the costs were about £16 per tonne or 1-6p per cover

What if my business is just getting back on its feet?

Juliane Caillouette-Noble, Managing Director of the SRA, said that a number of the actions businesses can take to reduce their impact are cost saving – like energy reduction. She suggested that coming out of the pandemic, businesses could focus on these types of measures first before moving onto steps that could have a cost attached, including offsetting.

Nick Brown, Head of Sustainability, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners GB, one of the development partners on the initiative, said the cost and accessibility of the initiative were the two key findings from the pilot. “It’s about getting message out there that it’s easier and cheaper than you think, and it will help you be ready for policy changes upcoming.”

What were the key findings of the pilot involving Peach Pubs, Darwin & Wallace and The Culpeper?

For Net Zero Now the key findings from the pilot are:

  1. The protocol works
  2. Sustainability-focused businesses can still learn lots of things about being more carbon efficient
  3. There are easy wins – like switching to renewable energy tariff
  4. Food comprises 70% of the carbon emissions in food-led pubs
  5. That the cost per cover is 1p-6p.

What impact could Net Zero Pubs and Bars have?

Simon said he hoped the initiative could help kick start a national conversation about the meaning of Net Zero and why it matters.

Hamish placed that in the real world terms: “We serve a million meals a year. If we can have a million conversations about Net Zero while pulling a pint or taking an order, then that will change the world.”

And Ian Peart of Pernod Ricard UK said that having two giants of the drinks industry supporting the initiative means that it could reach 90% of the UK’s more than 100,000 on-trade operators.

Why’s it important for hospitality businesses and small ones at that to be involved in the race to Net Zero?

Food has been left out of the climate change debate for too long, Juliane said. “But it is culturally important unlike cement for example. People feel passionately about the steak they are or aren’t going to order and so it’s key to the cultural shift.”

The sixth member of the panel. Catherine Westoby, Net Zero Business Engagement Lead, Clean Growth, The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, emphasised the huge role of small businesses in the race to Net Zero adding that there needs to be a mix of regulation but also businesses taking the first steps themselves and not necessarily trying to do everything overnight. She praised the sector for being a frontrunner.

“It’s fantastic that hospitality is taking this step and leading the way. If you can do it, then anyone can do it,” she said.

What if you’re not sure about whether to join the Net Zero Initiative?

Listen to what Hamish Stoddart said: “There will be some that aren’t that interested. But their teams will be. So, if you don’t understand that your teams want to do this then you are deaf dumb and blind – it’s a commercial issue, social issue and ethical issue. We have got to do it.”

What’s the potential for the initiative internationally?

The SRA’s satellite partners in Hong Kong, Japan and Greece are already looking to roll it out and replicability is a key part of Net Zero Now’s ambition.

Find out more about Net Zero Pubs and Net Zero Bars.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help your business go Net Zero contact Kate Dranginis – [email protected].

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