In early May, Greene King became the first UK pub chain to achieve the Carbon Trust’s Zero Waste to Landfill Standard after successfully implementing a system which saw all waste diverted away from landfill.
Back in 2015, Greene King laid out ambitious plans to reach net zero and since then has begun using compostable straws across its 1,700 pubs, as well as launching a partnership with food redistribution app, Too Good To Go.
While Greene King’s successes are admirable thanks to the massive number of pubs in their chain, it is standalone, independent establishments that have excelled since the turn of the century in creating what is known as eco pubs. What better way to enjoy the sip of an ice-cold pint than to know that you are doing it in a sustainable fashion?
Here, with SkipHire Bristol waste management specialist, we take you on a trip around Britain looking at the best eco pubs, and how other pub owners can join their ranks.
Scotland’s first eco pub, the Boathouse in Kilsyth is a stylish canal side bar, hotel, and restaurant. Situated in the stunning Auchinstarry Marina on the Forth and Clyde Canal, the Boathouse was constructed using sustainable timber and uses a geothermal heating system to draw residual heat from the canal.
Low energy refrigerators are used to keep food and drink cold while waterless urinals and low-flush toilets ensure that water waste isn’t an issue.
Once you’ve indulged in a pint or two, why not embark on a walk along the canal, soaking up the views of the rolling Campsie Hills in the distance?
Vying to be the world’s most ethical bar, everything has been thought of. Emblazoned on the window at the front of the bar is a sign stating, “planet over profit”, and the Shoreditch based establishment has covered all bases when it comes to their processes.
Pale ale? Sustainable! Loo-roll? Sustainable! Straws? Yes, you guessed it — they’re sustainable too. A Yorkshire based pale ale is made from unsold loaves and crusts of bread. The toilet roll is made from 100 per cent recycled paper. And last but not least, after much deliberation, the decision was finally made to use wheat stems as straws. The owner argued that paper straws are rubbish and energy intensive, so why not use wheat straws — which are also gluten free?
But it isn’t just their protection of the environment that is helping them standout and stand tall — everything about the bar is ethical. One in four staff are homeless, ex-offenders, or have a disability. The pub runs a scheme known as ‘the more you party, the more you raise for charity’, where proceeds of events such as quiz nights goes towards local fundraisers. Finally, non-profits or social enterprises are the source of absolutely everything within the pub.
A pub with a history of more than 200 years certainly presents a challenge when it comes to remaining eco-friendly. Al and Dan, who purchased the Sour Nook Inn in Carlisle back in 2012, knew one of their biggest tasks was going to be energy management, not only to save money, but to save the environment.
Out with the old and in with the new as they say, the owners replaced the 30-year-old boiler with a pellet burning alternative — the pellets being supplied by a local firm renowned for sustainable fuel. Alongside the burner, on the southside of the building, solar panels have been fitted as has ultra-low energy lighting throughout the building.
Not only do the owners recycle every bit of waste they can, their cooking oil is returned to the suppliers who convert it into biodiesel, further complementing this idea of an eco-friendly establishment.
So, how then, as a publican, do you set about achieving the desired status of ‘eco pub’?
Setting out to achieve net zero straight away is probably something you’re going to want to avoid — certainly a worthwhile goal for the future but let’s look at walking before you can run.
With major chains like Greene King being able to achieve net zero across their 1,700 pubs, why not set yourself the challenge today and help save the environment in the process?