Zero Carbon Forum: UK’s biggest restaurants team up to plot pathway to net-zero

Pizza Express (pictured) is one of 18 founding brand members

Called the Zero Carbon Forum, the new initiative is receiving support from trade associations UK Hospitality and the British Beer and Pub Association. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has also offered its endorsement, as has MP Andrew Griffith, who was recently appointed the UK’s net-zero business champion for COP26.

Members of the forum will collectively develop a roadmap to net-zero for the UK’s hospitality sector and publish the tool by September 2021. The deadline is to be confirmed but will be more ambitious than the national 2050 vision.

It is hoped that the roadmap will receive sweeping support ahead of COP26 in November 2021, where it could be offered to hospitality players in other nations.

The founding members of the Zero Carbon Forum are Nando’s, Pizza Hut Restaurants Revolution Bars, BrewDog, Fuller’s, Burger King, Pizza Express, Boparan, Shepherd Neame, Marston’s, Azzurri, Adnams, Greene King, KFC, M&B, Young’s, St Austell and The Restaurant Group, which owns brands including Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s.

To help develop the roadmap and ensure its delivery, member businesses are required to measure and benchmark emissions across energy, water, waste and the supply chain on an annual basis. Companies will also be encouraged to collaborate on a pre-competitive basis on the procurement of renewable energy and electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.

“We are already working on a number of collaborative decarbonisation initiatives with the backing of CEOs from the biggest brands and have engaged the support of leading sustainability experts to ensure the sector can quicken the pace of transition to a net-zero economy,” the Zero Carbon Forum’s founder and chief executive Mark Chapman said.

“Cutting carbon emissions also cuts business costs so our solutions to tackling the climate crisis will help us bounce back more strongly from the pandemic. Hospitality is committed to working together at a pace to decarbonise its operations and support the Government’s green industrial revolution.”

A green recovery for UK hospitality

Hospitality has been one of the worst-affected sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic and the UK Government’s subsequent lockdown restriction decisions.

UK Hospitality estimates that one in every five people employed in the sector was made redundant between March and November, due to a 40% drop in revenue. Many big-name brands have either downsized or announced plans to close entirely, including Le Pain Quotidien, Byron Burger, Café Rouge and Upper Crust.

This financial situation presents difficulties for firms that were seeking to prioritise sustainability in 2020 and increase investments in technologies that minimise waste and emissions.

Nonetheless, the appetite for a green recovery is strong across the sector – especially given the wealth of research into how sustainability and profitability can align for businesses here.

To that end, edie recently published its Mission Possible: Green Recovery report for the hospitality and leisure sector. The report has been created with assistance from PHS and from the results of in-depth discussions with a steering panel of sustainability experts from some of the world’s most respected hospitality and leisure firms in the vanguard of sustainability leadership. It also summarises exclusive results from edie’s green recovery survey of 243 sustainability and energy professionals. You can download the report for free here.

Sarah George

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