Reduce, reuse, recycle
Running pubs creates waste and uses an awful lot of energy and materials. Pubs are successful because customers like to socialise, eat and drink in a relaxed and welcoming environment. We all want our pubs to be a cool oasis in the summer and a snug bolthole in winter.
As such, we recognise that energy consumption and waste creation are unavoidable parts of our business, but what we can do is take responsibility for those resources which we do use.
Since opening our central distribution centre, in 2004, our recycling efforts have received national recognition and awards. The distribution centre contains our recycling depot, to which our pubs return their recycling, using the very same lorries which have delivered their food and drink to them – a neat idea which, in itself, saves hundreds of thousands of road miles each year.
In 2009, we were delighted to receive an ‘Environmental Hero’ award from renowned green guru David Bellamy OBE. In 2010, we also won the Chartered Institute of Waste Management (CIWM) Recycling Performance of the Year.
Our distribution centre’s team of dedicated recyclers ensures that we recycle over 7,500 tonnes of waste: aluminium, cardboard, cooking oil, paper, plastic and steel. Our pubs also segregate their used glass, enabling us to recycle 10,500 tonnes a year. As for where it ends up: cooking oil is reused as fuel; cans get made into more cans; glass becomes road aggregate; plastic bottles end up as anything from bin bags to fleece jackets.
Simply by challenging the need for packaging and, indeed, working with like-minded, forward-thinking suppliers, we have made some great changes – some really simple; others requiring some major effort. That said, it’s worth it: simple adjustments to the pack sizes in which products are sent to our pubs have, in some instances, seen packaging reduced by over 25% and saved 10,000 road miles a year.
As for reusing materials, we have certainly discovered that one man’s waste is another man’s treasure: staff uniforms can be turned into industrial cloths and rags; plastic mushroom trays are great for storing and transporting all sorts of things; damaged pub furniture can be repaired and used in staff areas – and so the list goes on. The team checks all of the waste and constantly thinks: ‘In how many ways could we reuse this?’ We regularly donate furniture and clothing to local communities, charities and even amateur theatre groups. We’ve also set up a link between our distribution centre and an environmental charity, whereby those items no longer required across the pub estate can be reused through the charity to help schools, hospitals, shelters and other projects in the UK and abroad.
We are even turning food into power, by running schemes in which biodegradable waste is converted into methane and ultimately into electricity – producing 100% renewable energy, as well as creating some pretty good compost! We also spend a great deal of time looking at cutting our own energy consumption in our pubs.
Whether through monitoring energy usage on smart meters, utilising energy-efficient equipment or simply working smarter, we’ve managed to cut our energy consumption by 13.5%, compared with that of two years ago.
Here at Wetherspoon we are always striving to improve.
If you have any ideas you would like to see at your local, please get in touch!