Licensed trade takes next step towards net zero

Press Release 20/07/2021

  • First industry-wide protocol & certification sets standard for Net Zero in the on-trade 
  • New easy-to-use digital platform helps pubs & bars go net zero cost-effectively 
  • Cost to compensate for carbon emissions could be as low as 1p per cover

Net Zero Now

Today marks a major step forward in the licensed trade’s journey toward net zero carbon emissions1, as new developments in the Net Zero Pubs and Bars Initiative were unveiled at an event in central London. The Initiative puts the tools for action on the climate crisis into the hands of businesses in the sector, and today three new elements were revealed:

  • An industry protocol that sets out a standard for Net Zero against which pubs and bars can be certified and receive an accreditation mark to display to customers.
  • A dedicated, sector-specific digital platform providing a complete solution for operators to calculate their carbon emissions, set targets, get tailored reduction plans and compensate for pre-existing emissions. 
  • The findings of a pilot of the initiative with 36 pub and bar sites which showed that the vast majority of operators need more guidance to reduce their climate impact.  

The Net Zero Pubs and Bars Initiative has been developed by Net Zero Now, the sector-based climate action platform, working with its development partners Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) GB and Pernod Ricard UK. It will be rolled out across the sector by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. 

The initiative aims to make the process of going net zero easier and cost-effective for any sized business. The UK hospitality sector can play a unique role in familiarising the public with the national net zero ambition, and in a recent survey nearly 80 per cent of pub and bar owners asked saw action on climate change as a high priority2. Consumers are increasingly looking for venues that offer a more sustainable choice and employees are also keen to work for companies that are taking action on climate3.   

However, many pub and bar owners lack the necessary knowledge and tools to get to Net Zero, with 85% saying they needed help and guidance4. The new Net Zero Pubs and Bars protocol provides guidelines for any business in the sector to get to Net Zero. It has been peer reviewed by 30 organisations, representing the sector and sustainability and climate experts, and is freely available at and Pubs and Bars who follow the protocol can either be certified Net Zero or have their Net Zero target date certified.

With well-known operators such as Peach Pubs, Darwin & Wallace and The Culpeper taking part in a pilot of the Net Zero Pubs and Bars Initiative, initial key findings were4:

  • For food-led venues, the climate impact associated with food was around 70 per cent of the total carbon footprint, with drinks at eight per cent and the rest from general operations.  
  • For wet-led sites, emissions intensity was significantly lower overall (65% lower than food-led)
  • Pubs could unlock on average a 10 per cent reduction in total carbon emissions by switching to a renewable electricity supplier, but only 26 per cent of the sites in the pilot had already done so.
  • Sites in the pilot were using on average 30% more energy than best practice energy efficiency levels. The Net Zero Pubs and Bars protocols includes a range of simple actions such as reducing drafts, turning down thermostats, switching to LED lighting and changing kitchen habits that could reduce energy use by 10 per cent and carbon emissions by one to two per cent.
  • If all pubs in the pilot switched half of their dairy to non-dairy alternatives, they could save up to 700 tonnes of carbon. That’s the equivalent of saving the carbon emitted from using 80,000 litres of petrol.
  • The average cost per cover to compensate for a pub or bar’s carbon emissions through Net Zero Now’s Climate Compensation Charge is only around 5p (with a range of less than 1 pence for wet-led to high of 7p for food-led).
  • In comparison, nearly half of respondents to a CCEP survey of operators said they expected the cost of going net zero to be between 50p and £5 per cover.6  

Net Zero Now with Initiative Development Partners CCEP and Pernod Ricard UK will continue to work alongside the pilot operators, supporting 20 key accounts through the protocol to build a wealth of data for further roll out of the model. 

Together, CCEP GB and Pernod Ricard UK’s brands are present in around 90% of the businesses operating in this sector in the UK7 and their contribution to the Net Zero Pubs and Bars Initiative will enable businesses along their entire value chain to reduce their own carbon emissions.

They are also inspiring the industry with their own sustainability commitments. Pernod Ricard UK has committed to reaching net zero in its own operations and to reducing by 50 per cent the intensity of its overall carbon footprint by 2030, with a target to reach net zero overall by 2050. CCEP has committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its total value chain by 30% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions across the whole value chain by 2040.

At the London event, speakers from Net Zero Now, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Pernod Ricard UK, CCEP GB, The Sustainable Restaurant Association and Peach Pubs (one of the pilot scheme operators), gathered to discuss the findings of the pilot and the challenges and opportunities for the industry on the path to net zero.  

Simon Heppner, CEO of Net Zero Now, said: “For the first time, the licensed trade has a clear pathway to net zero carbon emissions and a dedicated platform which puts the tools for action on the climate crisis in the hands of all businesses regardless of size. The pilot programme has shown us that there is a strong demand from operators to make a positive change – and with the support of CCEP and PRUK, we’re able to make it simpler and cost-effective for them to do so. The need to reach net zero is common to all sectors but the challenges of getting there are different. As we expand the Net Zero Now model into other sectors, we will support the whole SME economy to become more sustainable.”

Nick Brown, Head of Sustainability at CCEP GB said: “At the end of 2020 we set out some ambitious targets for our business to reach net zero by 2040, but to really shift the dial we need work together as an industry – and bring businesses, large and small, on board. The findings from the initial pilots have provided some great learnings, helped shaped some clear guidelines for the sector to refer to, and as it is all hosted from an easy to access platform will help remove one of the biggest barriers for smaller licensed operators, which is not having the necessary information to hand to know how to become net zero.

With COP26 just around the corner, the Net Zero Pubs & Bars protocols are CCEP’s contribution to helping our valued licensed customers join the Race to Zero and we look forward to supporting the project in its next phase as more outlets get involved.”

Ian Peart, Commercial Director at Pernod Ricard UK, said: “We know how vital the topic of sustainability is, both to the On-Trade and to consumers. 83% of UK consumers now expect food and drink brands to engage on at least one of four areas of sustainability; sourcing, packaging, carbon or fundraising, which is why it is important we support our customers and are a valued sustainability partner to the trade. We look forward to working together as an industry and supporting the launch of the protocols to drive change across the supply chain as we collectively tackle the issue of climate change.”

Juliane Caillouette-Noble, Managing Director of the SRA, said: “The findings from the pilot demonstrate the huge potential of the Net Zero Protocols for Pubs and Bars. They’ve enabled the pilot sites not only to increase their understanding of their climate impact, but also, and really importantly, to identify and action steps to reduce that impact. This provides us with an exciting opportunity to roll this out across hospitality, particularly to SMEs, putting climate action in the hands of forward-thinking businesses across the UK.”   

Catherine Westoby, Net Zero Business Engagement Lead, Clean Growth, The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, said: “Businesses of all sizes have a role to play in helping the UK get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. I warmly welcome the collaboration behind this initiative. The protocol provides a roadmap to net zero for pubs and bars and the digital platform gives them access to tools and guidance to follow that roadmap.  Now the whole sector can play its part in tackling the climate crisis.”

1.    According to the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)  to reach a state of net zero emissions for companies implies two conditions:
     a.    To achieve a scale of value-chain emission reductions consistent with the depth of abatement achieved in pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot and;
     b.    To neutralise the impact of any source of residual emissions that remains unfeasible to be eliminated by permanently removing an equivalent amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
2.    CCEP Independent Licensed Customer Survey June 2021, 384 recipients.
3.    Census wide survey 2020:
4.    The full sector pilot findings are available on request   
5.    Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator | Energy and the Environment | US EPA 
6.    CCEP Independent Licensed Customer Survey June 2021, 384 recipients.
7.    Based on CGA figures correct as of 21.03.20.