Whitbread, the UK’s largest hospitality company made an industry-leading sustainability commitment which will see its carbon emissions intensity cut in half.
In recognition of Earth Day , the company which owns Premier Inn, Costa Coffee and various restaurant chains announced it has set a science-based carbon target (SBT), putting it on course to reduce carbon emissions intensity by 50 per cent by 2025 and as much as 88 per cent by 2050.
Whitbread becomes one of just a handful of hospitality companies worldwide to make the pledge and the move is believed to have established Premier Inn – which operates 85,000 rooms in the UK and Germany – as the biggest hotel company in the world and first in Europe to set a SBT, raising the benchmark for competitors across the globe.
Developed by the independent Carbon Trust and in line with 2015 The Paris Agreement the target will see Whitbread maintain its commitment to sustainable operations.
It will drive a number of enhancements including:
- Moving towards zero gas use in all new-build Premier Inn hotels
- Moving towards green gas across Premier Inn hotels
- A maintained commitment to renewable energy in the UK and in international operations where possible
- Investing in efficient appliances to reduce gas consumption
- Reducing emissions from company car fleets and distribution vehicles by moving to more electric, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles
- Installation of solar panels to support the use of renewable energy across Whitbread’s estate
It covers emissions from buildings owned and/or operated by Whitbread under all Premier Inn, restaurant and Costa brands both in the UK and internationally (Eire, Germany, Poland, China, Singapore) as well as Whitbread’s UK-owned logistics fleet, including company cars.
Whitbread’s environmental strategy has already made significant efforts to cut carbon by improving the efficiency of its deliveries, switching 100,000 light bulbs to more energy efficient models and installation of energy efficient appliances, electricity generating solar panels and smart heating controls to minimise energy use in its Premier Inn hotels.
Whitbread Director of Sustainability James Pitcher said, “Our sustainability programme is part of the way we operate at Whitbread and helps us to ensure we always act as a force for good. All responsible businesses must recognise - and address - the impact they have not simply because it is the right thing to do, but because there is no stronger foundation for any successful business than clear values and robust ethical principles. We are delighted to confirm our latest sustainability initiative will cut our greenhouse gas emissions intensity in half and we reaffirm our commitment to constantly challenging ourselves for new ways to become even more environmentally sustainable”.
Dominic Burbridge, Associate Director at the Carbon Trust, said, “We have been working with Whitbread on carbon reduction for over a decade. Throughout that time, the company has consistently been at the forefront of best practice for sustainability within the hospitality sector. As the next step in this journey, Whitbread should be congratulated for putting itself on a pathway towards a genuinely low carbon future, which objectively aligns with what will be required to meet the ambition contained in the Paris Agreement. But this goes beyond just setting a target. The company has strong plans for delivering it in a way that makes good business sense. This will help Whitbread reap the benefits of improved energy efficiency, the switch to clean energy and green heat, and use of low carbon transportation.”
Nicolas Perin, Programmes Manager at the International Tourism Partnership  (ITP) said, “We’re inviting the hotel industry to embrace science-based targets and work together to reduce carbon emissions at scale and we heartily congratulate Whitbread on this bold move that clearly signals the company’s commitment to the planet and to playing their part in meeting the Paris Agreement on global warming”.
Last year Whitbread was a supporting member of the launch of ITP’s Goals for 2030  which included the Goal on carbon which was a commitment for hotels to set meaningful Science-Based Targets.
Whitbread’s sustainability programme Force for Good lays down the company’s commitment to operating in a way that respects people and the planet, making a meaningful contribution to the communities it serves and creating employment opportunities for all.
Recent Force for Good initiatives include Whitbread becoming the first national partner to the Refill scheme (allowing people to fill up their water bottles for free at 3,000 locations across the UK), Costa Coffee’s announcement that it will replace plastic drinking straws with non-plastic alternatives during 2018 and Premier Inn becoming the world’s largest Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified national hotel chain.