Whitbread walks the walk with sustainability strategy

The UK's largest hospitality company Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants has reiterated its commitment to green growth with a 2014 CSR report that demonstrates significant progress with its various sustainability initiatives.

The Premier Inn, Costa Coffee and Beefeater operator (Scroll down for full CSR report) has already exceeded its 2017 target for water reduction and looks well set to hit targets for energy and waste. As such, the company is now developing new reduction programmes and targets for all three areas, due to be announced next year.

Edie has broken down Whitbread’s 2014 sustainability report, with a focus on the group’s various energy, waste and water targets and achievements.



Whitbread is targeting a 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2017 and 10% carbon reduction in its supply chain.


Relative to sales, Whitbread’s carbon emission efficiency has improved by 10.3% year-on-year whilst opening 3,540 new bedrooms, 114 coffee shops and eight restaurants. The firm now stand at a 32.8% reduction in carbon intensity from its 2009 baseline, hitting its target three years early.


Whitbread’s existing estate contributes over 200,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Since 2010, the company has spent over £20m on energy efficiency projects across its entire portfolio. Since 2009, the company has doubled the amount of renewable energy purchased to 32% of all the energy it buys, reducing Whitbread’s dependency on fossil fuel-generated electricity.

In 2010, Whitbread opened two of the UK’s greenest budget hotels, in Burgess Hill and Staffordshire. On average, the two properties use between 40% less energy and water than Premier Inns of a similar size. The company is now taking the learnings from these new-builds to apply across its existing estate of 670+ Premier Inns and 400+ restaurants.



Whitbread has a target of zero waste to landfill from all operations by 2017, along with an aim to reduce the energy consumption of its buildings and sites by 70% from a 2009 baseline.


Working with its partners Veolia Environmental Services, Whitbread has made a ‘tremendous improvement’ to its waste and recycling efforts over the past five years. In 2013/14, the group diverted 94.6% of waste from all hotels and restaurants. In Costa, the company achieved 67% and the Costa Roastery diverted 100% of the waste it produced away from landfill.

In 2013, Whitbread was awarded the Carbon Trust Standard for Waste Management for its ‘robust’ approach to waste measurement and management and annual reductions.


Whitbread’s coffee brand has lead the way in this area, with a number of successful specific initiatives. The new double-lined recyclable Costa Coffee cup has reduced the habit of ‘double cupping’ and slashed paper cup usage by 10%.

When Costa introduced a new uniform last year, the business recycled all of the old uniforms into materials such as industrial cloths and car door insulation, saving nine tonnes of uniform from going to landfill.

Last year, Costa launched new Forest Stewardship Council-certified packaging for its food, which has saved over 18 tonnes of paper annually.
In Whitbread restaurants, more than 800,000 litres of used cooking oil was recycled last year alone.



The company has a 2017 target in place to reduce total water consumption by 25%.


In 2013, Whitbread used more than four million cubic meters of water. This is a 28.2% reduction in total water consumption since a 2009 baseline, meaning Whitbread has already exceeded its 25% target.


As the group opens new hotels, restaurants and coffee shops and retrofits existing ones, it implements a number of water-saving initiatives. These include rainwater harvesting, which captures and filters rainwater and uses it for non-potable applications, and greywater systems that use recycled shower and bathwater to flush toilets. Greywater systems in Premier Inn hotels save an average of 30 litres per room per day.

Whitbread Group was the winner of the Water Management Award at edie’s 2014 Sustainability Leaders Awards, for its work with Waterscan developing greywater recycling systems. Read more here.

By using better monitoring and measurement of its water usage, Whitbread also saved over £180k through leak repairs in its hotels and restaurants last year alone.


Writing in the report, Whitbread’s chief executive Andy Harrison said: “Tackling climate change and doing more to improve sustainability and resource efficiency are major issues affecting all business sectors. As the UK’s largest hospitality company, we aim to be a leader in developing sustainable business practices within our sector.

“We are especially proud to be the first hospitality company in the UK to receive the prestigious Carbon Trust Triple Award for achievements in carbon, water and waste reduction across all hotels and restaurants.”

Whitbread Corporate Responsibility Report 2014

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie