HOSPITALITY operators are being encouraged to sign up to a platform that will help them measure and reduce their carbon footprint.
The Net Zero Now Hospitality Initiative is supported by drinks companies including Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) and Pernod Ricard UK.
Here, Simon Heppner, co-founder of Net Zero Now, and Sam Jones, head of climate and sustainability at CCEP, answer some questions on why sustainability should be high on the agenda for hospitality.
How important is it that hospitality operators take sustainability seriously? Why is this something that should be tackled now?
Simon Heppner, Net Zero Now: “The UK hospitality sector produces around eight million tonnes of CO2 annually, which makes action an immediate priority. Since we’re already overshooting the 2050 target of keeping warming below 1.5c, we need as many businesses as possible to get on board, now.
“Pubs, bars and restaurants are at the heart of our communities and our conversations – making them uniquely placed to help the broader public understand the national net zero ambition.
“And there are clear benefits for those that get on board.
“Many consumers are now looking for venues that offer a more sustainable choice and employees are also keen to work for companies that are taking action on climate.
“There is a commercial advantage to be gained from becoming a net zero early adopter, but such benefits will diminish once this becomes a mandatory expectation of all hospitality businesses.”
What is involved with calculating a company’s carbon footprint? What information do you need from the business?
Simon Heppner: “Whilst every company’s carbon footprint will look slightly different, they will all contain operational data that details energy and water use, and procurement and transport data.
“The Net Zero Now platform has been designed to integrate with leading accountancy software to take away some of the heavy lifting in data input and, once the first year’s data is uploaded, the process becomes even easier.”
With costs rising and margins tightening, some operators will be loathe to spend any money they don’t feel they have to. What are the commercial arguments for investing in a service such as Net Zero Now?
Simon Heppner: “Many of the actions businesses can take to help them reach net zero cost nothing at all, while the returns of achieving net zero can be considerable, including both cost savings and competitive advantage.
“A typical net zero journey involves achieving the highest levels of energy efficiency and the lowest levels of waste, both of which can yield cost savings.
“Businesses that work with Net Zero Now benefit from a practical pathway that has been designed in partnership with industry leaders in their sector. These roadmaps ensure consistency in how business reports on carbon reduction, which allows comparability and enables similar businesses to compete on the basis of their carbon emissions – whether that’s for talent, investment or for customers that are looking to drive down their own value chain emissions.”
What are CCEP’s long-term sustainability goals, and how does the partnership with Net Zero Now fit into those plans?
Sam Jones, CCEP: “As a leading supplier in GB, we take our sustainability commitments seriously. That’s why we have an ambition to reach net zero emissions by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Climate agreement – and to reduce our absolute greenhouse gas emissions across our value chain by 30% by 2030 (compared with 2019).
“Support for the Net Zero Hospitality Initiative is one of the ways we’re working with our customers to help them drive down their carbon impact whilst reducing our scope three emissions, highlighting that collaboration is key to tackling the climate change crisis.
“We also know that almost half of consumers say a venue’s commitment to sustainability is an important part of deciding where to go and spend their money , and we need to help our customers respond to this demand, by lending our expertise, support and resources directly and through initiatives like this to help them remain appealing and competitive.”
Do you think more Scottish hospitality businesses will get involved in the Net Zero Hospitality Initiative in the next year?
Sam Jones: “We understand that implementing new processes takes time, particularly during a period when the hospitality sector is facing a myriad of challenges, from rising costs to skills shortages.
“But the key thing to understand is that becoming more sustainable isn’t just the right thing to do for the planet – it’s good for business, too.
“Businesses like Lisini (see page 10) are already feeling the benefits in terms of becoming more resource and energy efficient, while attracting customers and motivating staff.
“We are confident that Lisini’s story – and those of other operators who are on the road to net zero – will inspire other businesses to take advantage of the support that’s on offer and accelerate their own sustainability journeys.”
How can Scottish hospitality operators find out more about the initiative?
Sam Jones: “Net Zero Now is currently offering hospitality businesses a 30-day free trial, so we recommend that they visit the website to find out how the initiative can help them. We are also open to discussions with customers in helping them fund usage of the platform for a longer period of time. Visit netzeronow.org or speak to a CCEP rep for more information.”