A growing number of consumers want to shop with a peace of mind that the products they buy are suited to a more environmental and socially aware lifestyle.
In addition to this consumer demand, government legislation now states that businesses must reduce carbon emissions, forcing retailers to scrutinise everything from waste management and packaging, to supply chain and business processes in a bid to become greener.
Adnams is a values-driven business. We believe this leads to a highly motivated workforce, better relationships with customers, suppliers and our local community, and a brand that has greater resonance with our consumers. All of which means that we believe our approach can produce better business results.
Society starts in the workplace. We aim for an informal, energised, team-working culture and a workforce that is better trained, more fully empowered and highly motivated. Our latest employee survey generated a 70 per cent response rate, with nearly 90 per cent saying they were proud to be part of our company. Part of that pride comes from an active programme of engagement in community projects.
Adnams is proud of its achievements in this area and has aimed to embed responsible corporate management throughout its business, making it everyone’s responsibility rather than just one dedicated team.
In recent years we have taken many progressive steps with the view to cutting our carbon footprint.
Our company-wide recycling scheme, a relatively simple measure, includes paper, packaging, electrical equipment, vehicle batteries and tyres, mobile phones and glass. Even the cooking oil from our hotel kitchens is converted into biodiesel and spent grains from the brewing process are recycled as pig and cattle feed.
Our waste supplier separates and recycles 95 per cent of waste rather than putting it into landfill and we increase the longevity of the tyres on our HGVs by swapping them over regularly.
We created an innovative lightweight bottle, which was recognised as a major step forward in beer packaging and now other brewers have also reduced their packaging. The impact of the bottle alone is a reduction of 415 tonnes of CO2 per year – the equivalent of 138 cars off the road, which almost offsets employee car use at Adnams.
The Adnams distribution centre is a highly efficient 4,400m² building constructed from hemcrete (a combination of hemp and lime), topped with a sedum roof. We capture rainwater for toilet flushing and vehicle washing and, importantly, we do not use air-conditioning as the centre has the ability to maintain the internal temperature at 11ºC, the perfect temperature to store Adnams beers without the use of mechanical refrigeration.
In 2007, we installed a new brewery, which like our distribution centre, has been designed to extremely high standards of environmental efficiency. The new brewstream is a state-of-the-art installation, which recovers 100 per cent of the heat from each brew to reheat the next.
We launched the UK’s first carbon neutral beer, East Green, last year. Working closely with the University of East Anglia’s carbon reduction team, the beer is a culmination of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions as far as possible throughout every part of the brewing process – from the hops and malt through to the packaging.
We believe we are amongst the most energy efficient breweries in the UK, with one of the lowest volumes of water usage per pint produced within the brewing sector. Our intention is to continue to set an example; it may sound like a cliché, but this really is a journey for Adnams and there is much more for us to do.
We are convinced that we are building our business value and generating better results through our commitment to sustainable business practice. Operating in a values driven way is not a soft option and like all commercial organisations we have to make tough decisions. It is how we handle the inputs to, and outputs from, those tough decisions that sets us apart from many of our competitors.
There is little excuse for businesses not to act responsibly. A little investment of time and resources can make a significant and sustainable impact. At the same time businesses can enhance their reputation, strengthen brand and shareholder value while improving business performance.
*Andy Wood is the managing director of Adnams