Business needn’t cost the earth

As we head towards another watershed moment at the well-publicised multi-lateral conference, COP26 in Glasgow, Adnams remains as committed as ever to tackling climate change. As a relatively small business, our impact on total emissions is limited but we feel it is important as a high-profile business perched on the east coast that we take a leadership position. East Anglia is one of the lowest-lying, driest and warmest parts of the UK. Living so close to the edge as we do, we see the rise and fall of the tide every day and when a big spring tide arrives some of our pub’s flood and some of the iconic Southwold beach huts get washed away. A phenomenon that has undoubtedly become more frequent in recent years. For this reason and because it’s the right thing to do, our purpose and values promote the notion of sustainable success and that doing business needn’t cost the earth.

Decades of indifference and inaction around climate change means adapting to a new reality is going to carry a much higher cost burden for businesses and economies the world over. Hindsight is an exact science, and if we had all started down this path years ago timescales would have been longer and the costs of change considerably less. Customer expectations are changing too. They expect the businesses that they spend their hard-earned money with to be acting. In this regard, Adnams is delighted to be founding members of the Zero-Carbon Forum (ZCF), a coalition of many like-minded hospitality businesses that are committed to making the change. Hospitality is uniquely placed to have an interaction with its customers around this issue and, as an important and large sector in the UK economy, it can help drive further behavioural change. Therefore, the hospitality ZCF can make a real difference. Our previous work means Adnams has a head start and we estimate we are approximately 50% towards net zero. As three times winners of the Queens Award for Sustainable Development, following the introduction of our lower impact brewhouse and distribution centre fifteen years ago, we have a strong track record of sustainable development and have much to contribute to this debate. We say this without complacency or hubris, as we want the whole hospitality industry to be a leader in the transition to net-zero. We fixed the roof whilst the sun was shining and we are happy to help others get to the same place as us quickly, this is too important an issue to be competitive.

Our values and culture mean this approach is embedded within our business. Many years ago, I came across a chap called Jan Carlsson, who became CEO of SAS, a then poorly run state-owned airline with the unenviable reputation for always being late. He turned it around partly by popularising the phrase ‘do not try to improve one thing by 100%, improve 100 things by 1%’. This is where the embeddedness comes in, our teams are full of ideas to improve our sustainability performance. We do not quite reach 100 things, but we have over 40 projects large and small that are aimed at reducing our impact. Examples of this are: working with Blue Marine Foundation to regenerate the world’s oceans, introducing lightweight bottles for our beer, sourcing more of our hops from the UK, reusing packaging, introducing a refillable option for customers in our shops and our distribution centre becoming the home to some 40 beehives. I hope proof that our team is as committed as ever. Finally, we are excited about our latest collaboration brew with Toast Ale made from surplus bread and called Turning Tide!