A new net zero accreditation system has been launched for pubs and bars in a bid to give UK drinkers an understanding of the sustainability performance of their favourite watering holes.
At an event in central London yesterday, the Net Zero Pubs and Bars Initiative unveiled a new net zero standard for drinking venues against which sites can be certified and receive an accreditation mark. The scheme was debuted alongside the launch of a new online platform designed to help venues reduce their emissions.
The scheme, which will be rolled out across the sector by the Sustainable Restaurant Association, comes after a pilot of the initiative at 36 pub and bar sites across the UK revealed the vast majority of venues needed more guidance to help reduce their climate impact.
“For the first time, the licensed trade has a clear pathway to net zero carbon emissions and a dedicated platform which puts the tools for action on the climate crisis in the hands of all businesses regardless of size,” said Simon Heppner, CEO of the climate action platform Net Zero Now, which is running the new Net Zero Pubs and Bar initiative. “The need to reach net zero is common to all sectors but the challenges of getting there are different.”
Heppner added that the pilot scheme had highlighted “strong demand” from pubs and bars to make a positive change. “With the support of [project partners] Coca Cola Europacific Partners and Pernod Ricard UK, we’re able to make it simpler and cost-effective for them to do so,” he said.
The sector-specific digital platform launched by the Net Zero Pubs and Bars initiative aims to help operators calculate their carbon emissions, set climate targets, create tailored emissions reduction plans, and understand how they can compensate for existing emissions.
Catherine Westoby, net zero business engagement lead for clean growth at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), applauded the initiative, noting that businesses of all sizes had a role to play in the UK’s net zero transition. “The protocol provides a roadmap to net zero for pubs and bars and the digital platform gives them access to tools and guidance to follow that roadmap,” she said. “Now the whole sector can play its part in tackling the climate crisis.”
The hospitality sector could play a major role in familiarising the public with the UK’s net zero ambition, yet findings from the Net Zero Pubs and Bar Initiative pilot revealed most pubs and venues remain unsure about how best to enhance their sustainability performance.
The study, which featured chains Peach Pubs and Darwin & Wallace and East London venue The Culpeper, found that pubs could unlock on average a 10 per cent reduction in total carbon emissions by switching to a clean energy supplier, but noted that only 26 per cent of the sites had done so. It also found that sites were using on average 30 per cent more energy than best practice energy efficiency levels.
However, relatively simple steps could deliver significant emissions savings. For example, the report calculated the 36 venues in the pilot scheme could collectively save up to 700 tonnes of carbon – roughly the equivalent of emissions produced by 80,000 litres of petrol – if they switched half their dairy to non-dairy alternatives.
Bars and pubs that offer food as well as drink face a greater decarbonisation challenge over the years ahead, with the climate impact of food found to be around 70 per cent of venues’ total carbon footprint, with drinks accounting for just eight per cent, the research revealed. As such, emissions intensity was 65 per cent lower at “wet-led” pubs.
“The findings from the initial pilots have provided some great learnings, helped shaped some clear guidelines for the sector to refer to, and as it is all hosted from an easy to access platform will help remove one of the biggest barriers for smaller licensed operators, which is not having the necessary information to hand to know how to become net zero,” said Nick Brown, head of sustainability at CCEP GB.
CCEP and Pernod Ricard UK said they would continue to work alongside the venues that took part in the pilot and would support “20 key accounts through the protocol to build a wealth of data for further roll out of the model”.