Resource Use

Greene King brewing zero waste to landfill plan with new initiatives

Brewer and pub retailer Greene King has announced a zero waste to landfill target for 2020, with a number of initiatives being introduced across its operations to eradicate landfill waste.

Greene King brewing zero waste to landfill plan with new initiatives
Greene King manages over 3,100 pubs, restaurants and hotels in the UK
As part of its signing up to the Courtauld Commitment 2025, the cross-industry agreement to reduce food and drink waste run by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAp), the company, based in Bury St Edmunds, entered a long-term partnership with waste management company SWR in April 2016.   

The partnership initially aimed to reduce landfill waste across the entire managed estate and has now set a target to remove it totally by 2020.

Matt Todd, Group Trading Director at Greene King, said: “Waste is a real issue for the hospitality industry, and with the total Eating Out market set to grow from an estimated £87.1 billion in 2016 to £94.1 billion in 2019 [according to market analysis by NPD Group], it is set to become more and more pressing.”

Since last April Greene King – the UK’s largest pub retailer and brewer with over 3,100 pubs, restaurants and hotels – has introduced a number of measures across its pubs, including a waste recycling backhaul scheme that sees pub teams separate waste on site into dedicated bins for separate materials before it is returned via a dedicated food redistribution network. The company says that this has reduced the number of general waste bins used by 42 per cent.

In total, the company reports that its zero waste initiatives have seen Greene King increase its recycling rate from 49 per cent to 70 per cent, saving just under four million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

This also equates to a 95 per cent diversion from landfill, with just under 8,000 tonnes being diverted from landfill across the whole estate. The food waste is instead being sent to anerobic digestion, where it says it is producing enough energy to power more than 7,100 homes per month.

Greene King has also been working with WRAP to improve its waste strategy through two key waste engagement projects: a best practice training programme for Area Managers, and work with supply chain partners regarding packaging and portion control.

Todd added: “We’re really pleased to announce our goal of zero waste to landfill by 2020 and the progress made so far towards it. We’re delighted that, as a leader in the space, we’re able to set an example to the rest of the industry and show that sustainability and an excellent offering can work hand in hand. The results show that we’re making real progress towards our goal, and we’re looking forward to implementing further initiatives over time.”

Greene King brewing zero waste to landfill plan with new initiatives
The brewing industry is one that is starting to push sustainability more and more, but while it is easier for the increasingly large number of craft brewers to trade on eco-credentials (the last year has also seen the launch of Toast Ale, a beer made from surplus bread, and Wasted, an ale created using waste pears and croissants), it is harder for larger, more traditional brewers to follow suit, with brewing a resource intensive process.

Huge amounts of grains, and water are used to make beer, with not much room for greater efficiencies in the raw material usage. It is instead how the equipment is run and the waste byproducts are used that can create environmental savings.

As well as acting to reduce its waste, Greene King last year invested in a new smart pump beer cooling system across its managed estate, which it predicts will cut the energy used in the process by more than 50 per cent.

Last year, Resource spoke to Adnams, another Suffolk-based brewer that has looked at its use of organic waste, steam, packaging and distribution to create a sustainability plan. At Adnams, water used for cooling is then used again as hot liquor water, with the steam from that being captured and passed on to heat the next brew – giving extra life to much of the water that passes through the brewery.

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