The subject of plastic straws hit the national headlines earlier this year due to the ‘David Attenborough effect’ following the success of his recent hit show Blue Planet II.

This topic was highlighted again during July as a result of the environmental organisation Plastic Free July and their trending social challenge aiming to reduce single-use plastic which received overwhelming backing from the general public.

Plastic-straws are one thing, but what else can pubs do to be more environmentally friendly? We’ve highlighted three ways pubs can make a positive difference to the environment:

1. Reduce Plastic Usage

Plastic plays a huge role in the day to day running of most hospitality businesses, including pubs, and in some cases it is unavoidable. However, due to the growing awareness of plastic consumption, it has never been so important to think about how you can reduce its usage in your pubs.

The plastic straw has taken centre stage in the public eye with consumers demanding the reduction, and even ban, of single use plastics. Although many pubs have already made the switch, if you haven’t, finding an alternative to plastic straws is a great place to start. The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) have created a Plastic Straws in Pubs Guide for effective drinking tube alternatives. A top tip is to only offer straws on request to help offset the purchase of pricey straw alternatives.

It can be difficult to know how to further reduce plastic waste with so many types of plastics playing a key role in the production and packaging of goods in your pubs. The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) has created an easy to use Toolkit called Unwrapping Plastics: Understanding Disposables in Hospitality The toolkit includes an 8 step guide to phasing out disposables which highlights suggestions such as auditing plastic use, ordering packaged products in bulk, and switching to refillable condiment and water bottles.

2. Calculate Food Waste

Food waste can cost the average pub a staggering £8,000 per year according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WARP). Food wastage comes from all areas of food service; guest plate waste, stock spoilage, and food preparation waste. Monitoring wastage and applying cost to this can demonstrate the value of waste and highlight areas to save. WARP outlines 4 steps to monitor and control food waste in Pubs: Taking Action on Waste:

Step 1) Measure and Monitor: this requires a week period to monitor food waste in three separate bins: spoilages, plate waste and calculate the value using a tracking sheet. The average percentage of food waste is: 45% food prep, 34% Guest Plates and 21% Spoilage.

Step 2) Develop an Action Plan: with the data collected from your audit, create a plan to focus on your key problem areas and ensure team are involved by using targets and responsibilities. Some areas to consider stock management, portion control, menu planning.

Step 3) Review Progress: keep a monthly check on success of the plan though monitoring and calculating waste and via team feedback

Step 4) Share Good Work: WARP and BBPA are encouraging pubs to share their achievements and keep up to date with the good work carried out by other businesses.

3. Save Energy

Making small and effective changes to save energy can have a huge impact on utility costs. Although it may sound obvious, turn off appliances when they are not being used and remember to alter timed lighting and temperature settings seasonally.

Nationwide Energy Consultants have put together a guide on Energy Saving Tips with useful facts and tips to help pubs to reduce usage across electricity, gas and water. The guide highlights that one of the best methods is to ensure the team is fully trained and are aware of the importance of energy saving to the business and the environment. They also suggest having an “Energy Champion” to take responsibility for implementing cost saving measures.

Image by Festoon House (Patio String Lights) 

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