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Whitbread announces Net Zero carbon target on Earth Day 10 years ahead of previous commitment

22 Apr 2021 Brand, Sustainability

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The UK’s largest hospitality company Whitbread had pledged to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2040 – the first UK hotel chain to publicly commit to doing so. This new pledge coincides with Earth Day on Thursday, April 22.

The Premier Inn owner, which also operates restaurant brands including Brewers Fayre and Beefeater, had previously committed to reaching Net Zero by 2050 for its own operations but now plans to accelerate the programme under its Force for Good sustainability programme.

Net zero is the term used to describe when the amount of greenhouse gas produced by a business is no more than the amount removed from the atmosphere. 

In practice, for Whitbread this means a strategic plan to reduce its scope 1 and 2 emissions* to zero.  A small remainder may need to be offset through nature – for example by planting trees or utilising technology such as carbon capture and storage – but this is not Whitbread’s prime intention.

No other UK hotel chain has publicly committed to net zero and, to meet the target – which undoubtedly helps cement Whitbread’s position as a leading sustainable hotel business – the company will accelerate a number of enhancements including:

  • Reducing gas use across the estate by investing in efficient gas appliances or electric equivalents
  • A maintained commitment to 100% renewable energy in the UK and now in German operations as far as possible
  • Reducing emissions from company car fleets and distribution vehicles by moving to more electric and alternative fuel vehicles
  • Installation of solar panels to support the use of renewable energy across Whitbread’s estate

*This covers emissions from energy use within buildings owned and/or operated by Whitbread under all Premier Inn hotels and restaurants both in the UK and in Germany as well as company cars and Whitbread’s UK-owned logistics fleet.

Alison Brittain CEO said: “Driving sustainability is at the heart of Whitbread’s strategy.  Guests who stay with us can rest easy knowing they’re choosing a business which takes care of its people, the communities we operate in, and the world around us as well as  one that is constantly striving to become even more environmentally-focused. 

“We’re delighted to announce our new net zero target, which improves on our previous commitment, by bringing forward the date to achieve net zero from 2050 to 2040.  This builds on a long-line of environmental ‘firsts’ for Whitbread, such as our drive to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastics. We’re scrutinising all aspects of our operation from business fleet to boilers to achieve our goal and achieving a net zero position a decade earlier than originally planned is the right thing to do for our business, our guests and the environment”.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “We are leading the world through bold commitments to end our contribution to climate change and I’m delighted to see Whitbread showing their support for those ambitions by pledging to accelerate their own plans to go green. All businesses have a responsibility to drive forward environmental commitments and only by working hand-in-hand with industry can we make sure we continue building back greener towards a cleaner future.”

The move follows major inroads in Whitbread’s efforts to cut carbon by improving efficiencies in deliveries, including switching 100,000 light bulbs to energy efficient models and installation of energy efficient appliances and smart heating controls to minimise energy use in its Premier Inn hotels as well as the installation of solar panels on 20% of their UK hotels.

Whitbread also recently struck a deal with energy giant ENGIE, to deliver the UK hospitality sector’s biggest roll-out of high-powered electric charging points. Whitbread, which has over 800 hotels across the UK and more car park locations than the NCP, aims to install up to a thousand GeniePoint Network rapid charging points, beginning with 600 committed over the next three years as part of its Force for Good sustainability scheme.

Whitbread’s sustainability programme is part of its Force For Good sustainability strategy, which lays down the company’s commitment to operating in a way that respects people and the planet, making a meaningful contribution to communities in which it serves and creating employment opportunities with no barriers to entry.

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