Operational emissions are the main focus for Fuller’s as the pub company aims to reach its net zero target by 2030.

Ollie Rosevear, director of sustainability, told MCA’s Pub Conference last week that 10% of the Fuller’s estate is fully electric, resulting in a 50% reduction in gas usage.

He was speaking as part of a panel session hosted by Mark Chapman, founder of Zero Carbon Forum.

“For every pound you waste on energy, you have to generate £4 of sales to get that profit,” he told delegates. “It’s just good business sense to focus on energy efficiency.

“The electrification of kitchens has been a big focus for us over the past 24 months…equipment changes are what’s going to drive that efficiency.”

While Fuller’s expects a payback over a three to four-year period from these investments, more efficient kitchens are already paying off.

Wider efficiencies have delivered savings, with a 3-4% reduction in electricity usage alongside gas, according to Rosevear. Significant reductions in kitchen temperatures have also helped teams.

“From the teams’ side, small, simple changes can be made,” he explained. “We’ve used Attensi to help train our teams.

“At the grassroots level, we’re doing work with our apprentices, like talking about food waste, to really train those skills in.”

When it comes to the consumer, however, Rosevear acknowledged it is a challenge to strike a balance while communicating sustainability initiatives.

“People want to be able to enjoy the experience but also feel they’re doing the right thing.

“It’s about focusing on quality first – can you drive quality products that also happen to be sustainable? It’s about subtly doing it for the consumer rather than necessarily ramming it home.”

As for the supply chain, Fuller’s is eager to do its part in working collaboratively with brewers and other suppliers.

“We know that some sectors, such as livestock, contribute to climate change, but how can we make that sector more resilient?

“It’s about getting closer to your supply chain and understanding what they’re doing,” Rosevear added.

He was joined on the panel by St Austell marketing & communications director Laura McKay. The pub operator and brewer has a substantial wholesale network across the Southwest, and has therefore focused its sustainability initiatives on brewing and production.

“Beyond energy, water is a big part of what goes into your pint,” McKay said. “We’ve put in place monthly reporting mechanics and incentives to be able to track and deliver a reduction in water usage.

“Engaging with teams and empowering them to make a difference is paying dividends for us.”

St Austell strives to strike a balance between profitability, people, and planet, and has engaged with its teams to drive results.

“There’s so much noise in this space,” McKay added. “What do our teams want to see us doing?

“It’s not just talking about profit…we’ve changed the questions in our engagement surveys, for example, to find out what really matters to our teams.”

Equipping chefs and other team members with new skills, such as an awareness around sustainable cooking, gives them a competitive edge – while also supporting the company’s credentials, according to McKay.

“It also helps us elevate our story and what we’re doing within our sector.

“There is real enthusiasm among our teams, so it will be at our detriment if we don’t harness that and channel it into something positive.”

Like Fuller’s, St Austell is keen to engage with its suppliers on the brewing front. The resilience of malt supply is a key priority, for instance.

“We have direct conversations with local farmers in Cornwall to work with them collaboratively to understand regenerative methods,” she explained. “This enables them to diversify and in return helps us keep our supply resilient.”