A new guide has been launched by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and Ecotricity to assist hospitality businesses with creating a renewable energy policy.
The energy toolkit provides support for operators to build a strategy that drives down their carbon footprint, and provides a methodology to switch to green energy, as well as a practical advice on a number of energy efficiency measures that can be put in place to reduce the cost burden.
Dubbed Your Guide to Going Green, the tool illustrates how processes, prices and people involved in the hospitality industry can impact energy usage, which is around 4-5% of a restaurant’s daily operational cost.
The kit helps hospitality professionals understand concepts such as brown, green and so-called ‘deep’ energy tariffs, where money is used to build new sources of sustainable energy.
SRA development director Juliane Caillouette-Noble said that foodservice and restaurants are ‘hugely energy intensive environments’.
Great recipe for sustainability
“Switching to renewable energy and implementing a range of simple staff behaviour changes and efficiency measures is a great recipe for reducing that impact. That’s why we’ve partnered with Ecotricity to provide operators with the expertise to make the right decisions, right now about the energy they use and how they use it,” she said.
The SRA believes shifts in behavioural change and new energy efficiency measures could mean a 20% reduction in energy use for operators – which financially is the same as around a 5% increase in sales.
Additionally, there is the significant environmental gain of switching tariff, as a brown tariff is the equivalent of taking 6,000 trees to absorb the 13kg of CO2 produced annually by hospitality operators.
The association has made the call because only half of SRA members currently buy renewable energy and less than a fifth source 100% renewable electricity.
“We believe this guide will help break down barriers to an industry-wide switch to greener, more efficient energy use,” added Caillouette-Noble.
Ecotricity’s lead generation manager Kathryn Adams said they had “found there’s still some confusion about what green energy really is”.
“The new guide prepares any operator to go green – a move that will be better for their business, and better for the planet,” she said.
Not fast enough
The new toolkit follows the SRA’s report earlier this year which challenged the hospitality industry to step up to the plate when it came to climate change.
The report, titled The Tastiest Challenge on the Planet, reveals the UK hospitality trade has not reacted fast enough on key sustainability issues. It is currently ranked twenty-fourth in the global food sustainability league table, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition Foundation.
The SRA’s chief executive Andrew Stephen said at the time: “The scale and urgency of the issues facing the planet are huge. We need to challenge what we call normal, or good enough in hospitality in the UK.
“While the industry is taking lots of small steps, they aren’t keeping pace with the scope of what is needed. It is no longer sufficient simply to talk about being a sustainable business without targeting bigger change on the biggest issues.”
Many of the 6,700 chefs and business leaders interviewed for the report said they were reluctant to dictate change, feeling more comfortable “facilitating a movement”. But the SRA said it is now time for “a more proactive approach” and called for a three-pronged action plan to be implemented: reducing meat on the menu, food in the bin and single-use plastics.