BigHospitality's Sustainability Week: Pubs

By Becky Paskin

- Last updated on GMT

With pub closures at an all time high, the sector has had to be extra resourceful and creative in order to stay afloat. We speak to a small pub company and an independent to see what they're doing to run their businesses in a more sustainable way.

The chain – Peach Pubs

Lee Cash and Hamish Stoddart have always held a policy to operate in a socially and environmentally responsible way, from the training and welfare of their staff, to the footprint running a 13-site business leaves in its wake.

What are they doing?​ Peach uses seasonal and locally-sourced food across all its 13 pubs, ensuring that all meat and fish is ethically and sustainably produced. Cash even checks that his suppliers’ egg products, like mayonnaise and ice cream, are made from free range hens. The chain now has a policy to exclude all air freighted produce where possible, and selectes Fairtrade produce for unavoidable imports such as coffee.

The chain has also kitted out their three newest kitchens with energy efficient equipment, such as induction cookers, Gram refrigeration units, and Winterhalter dishwashers, which all use a fraction of the energy to run.

Peach also runs a tree planting scheme in Kenya to offset its pubs’ carbon footprint.

What’s the cost?​ Cash admits it is more expensive to fit kitchens with energy efficient equipment, but is confident his return will be through cheaper bills and lower carbon emissions. The Kenyan tree planting scheme, while noble and environmentally responsible, is costly, and Cash and Stoddart see no monetary return for their effort.

What’s in the pipeline​? Cash would like to ensure all Peach’s seafood is farmed and caught as sustainably as their meat, and is working with 3G Seafood to source a more sustainable catch feed. Peach is also now switching over to LED spotlights and low energy lighting in each of its pubs.

The Organic pub – The Duke of Cambridge

Geetie Singh operates the organic-certified Duke of Cambridge in Camden, London, where she employs almost every sustainable practice going. Her only obstacle to accomplishing more is the pubs location, which she says is far too restrictive.

What are they doing?​ Everything sold in the Duke is organic – from the meat, fish and vegetables, to the tampons in the ladies’ toilets. Singh never uses air freighted produce or that from cold storage or heated greenhouses, with 80 per cent of her stock originating in the home counties. Her fish policies are approved by the Marine Conservation Society and certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

The Duke’s energy is wind and solar generated and all its furniture recycled.

What’s the cost?​ Singh claims that using green energy suppliers is only marginally more expensive than the alternatives, although she admits she has never compared prices. “The environmental issues are too important,” she says. “Overall my running costs are probably more than a business that thinks purely about its profit margins, but my loyal customer base means turnover is probably much greater.”

The other major cost to Singh is recycling, which like many business operators experience, is more expensive than sending waste to landfill. “Hopefully that’s not going to be the case soon. It’ll cost much more to send your waste to landfill than it will to recycle as targets come in from the Government.”

What’s in the pipeline?​ Singh believes there is always more that can be done in a quest for true sustainability, but having such a central London location, further eco-friendly ideals are ‘unrealistic’. “I’d have solar power on the roof but I can’t right now. I’d need a new site to do the things I’d like to do.”

For more articles in this feature, click here​.

Related topics: Sustainability, Business, Pubs & Bars