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Whitbread - Carbon management & sustainability strategy

Whitbread has worked closely with the Carbon Trust since 2006.  Together we have identified new opportunities for sustainable growth in the business, giving Whitbread the confidence to invest £4m p.a. in energy and resource efficiency.

Beefeater and Premier Inn (Whitbread)

Whitbread is the UK’s largest hotel and restaurant group, including well-known brands such as Premier Inn, Costa, Brewers Fayre, Beefeater Grill, Table Table, and Taybarns. The company employs over 43,000 people and serves over 22 million customers every month in 2,500 outlets across the UK. Worldwide, there are almost 1,000 Costa stores in 28 countries and an expanding international hotel portfolio.

With a huge estate and multi-million pound energy bill, Whitbread recognises the need to be a force for good in the communities where it operates, addressing the challenges of resource efficiency and the potential to reduce costs and increase profits.

By calculating the carbon footprint of its signature Premier Inn bed, Whitbread has been able to better understand the impact of its choice of specifications and the relative impact of any changes to this. It has also been able to identify carbon hotspots such as the manufacture of cotton fabric and discuss potential solutions such as installing on-site renewable energy with suppliers.

Good Together

Whitbread is taking a lead in the hospitality sector by making bold but achievable commitments to promote sustainability across its hotels, restaurants and coffee shops.

Good Together, Whitbread’s corporate responsibility programme is designed to drive sustainable performance and embed corporate responsibility throughout its operations. The company has made significant environmental progress as it aims to help Whitbread’s employees, customers and supply chain partners make important changes to how they work. From encouraging its staff to turn off lights, to using cutting-edge technology to cut emissions, the initiatives encouraged under Good Together make a significant difference to the company’s carbon footprint and environmental performance.

As a result, Whitbread is on target to achieve its 2017 targets: 25% reductions in carbon emissions and water consumption, zero waste to landfill, and a 10% carbon reduction across their supply chain.

We’re serious about sustainability at Whitbread because we know it’s the right thing to do for the planet and it’s what our customers and our teams want. We also know that it can give us competitive advantage, save costs and more importantly reduce our impact on the environment and positively support local & global communities.

Mark Anderson, Commercial & Property Director, Whitbread

Premier Inn bed

Sustainable business growth

By working in a close partnership with the Carbon Trust since 2006, Whitbread has been able to build a detailed picture of its energy, carbon, water, and waste footprints and to identify new opportunities for sustainable growth in the business. Some notable actions include:

  • Creation of a group-level environmental strategy and implementation programme to achieve their energy, carbon, and water targets
  • Decisive action at board level to bring forward their original 2020 target of a 25% relative reduction in carbon intensity to 2017
  • Confidence to include some £4m per year of operational spend specifically for energy and resource efficiency investments to their existing estate and retrofits
  • Calculation of the carbon footprint of one of its most important assets - the signature Premier Inn bed - to better understand the impact of the choice of specifications, the relative impact of any changes, and how this diagnostic approach can be used to understand the supply chain implications of key purchasing decisions

Commitment to sustainability and resource efficiency

One area in which Whitbread has been notably successful is in reducing water use in relation to sales, achieving its targets significantly ahead of schedule. Actions in Whitbread’s key hotels and restaurants division have included new builds and retrofitting of rainwater harvesting, urinal controls, leak management and quick response via leak detection surveys, and recycling grey water from showers and baths to use in flushing toilets, post-treatment.

In 2009, Whitbread realised that it needed to do more to reduce the business’ environmental impact beyond energy and carbon. Good Together’s business-as-usual commitment to sustainability and resource efficiency has driven a 23% reduction in carbon emissions, a 22% reduction in water consumption, and 93% diversion of waste from landfill for all UK hotels and restaurants from a set baseline. This has been achieved while growing the number of Premier Inn hotel rooms by 4,242, opening 10 new restaurants, and 324 new Costa Coffee outlets resulting in a 14% increase in revenues in 2012/13.

As consumers become more discerning it’s not enough to do the bare minimum when it comes to sustainability. We see our sustainability strategy as an opportunity, not a compliance exercise, both in terms of future revenue growth and protecting existing value. The consumer of 2014 is as likely to identify water, waste and depleting resources as carbon when talking about sustainability. A comprehensive understanding of and engagement with all of these issues should therefore be a crucial part of any business’s core strategy and this is a prime reason why Whitbread has been motivated to work with the Carbon Trust to understand our impact, set meaningful targets and take action to become more sustainable.

Chris George, Head of Energy and Environment, Whitbread

Read more in our Whitbread case study (PDF)

See a video of Whitbread's Hogsmill Tavern refurbishment:

Read more about our work with Whitbread and other leading companies in our report: Opportunities in a resource constrained world: How business is rising to the challenge.

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