fruit and veg on wooden board

Behind the scenes of M&B's journey to net zero

Behind the scenes of M&B's journey to net zero

Sophie Percox our consultant managing the role
Date posted: 21/04/2022

Sustainability has become an increasingly important topic as we continue to see the impact of climate change around the world. At Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), sustainability is not just a buzzword. We’re not perfect, and we’ve got a way to go, but ensuring our business operates sustainably underpins all our strategic priorities and is an essential part of the way we want to work. 

Ahead of World Earth Day on 22nd April, we spoke to Amy de Marsac, Head of Investor Relations and Sustainability at M&B, who is driving the change throughout our business. She drew on her experience of pulling together as an M&B family, the conversations she's having with every part of the business, and what she learned over the last few years. Read on to find out how M&B are working towards leading the way on the hospitality industry’s journey to Net-Zero.

What has your experience been of working on the sustainability agenda at M&B?

‘In 2019, we reviewed our approach to sustainability and concluded that we wanted to use the size and scale of the M&B organisation to pull together and address some of the global priorities. Prior to this, work was being done but without any overall direction.

Sustainability touches every part of the organisation and since working in this area I’ve found myself having conversations with people and getting involved in things I otherwise wouldn’t have even known about. It’s taken a lot of work, and we started with a blank slate. However, now we have a direction, it's about making changes and getting things moving.

I’ve learned a lot very quickly, but one thing I keep in mind is that there is so much that you could potentially do. You could have an endless list. The key to it is prioritising.’

How is M&B becoming more sustainable?

‘We’ve set challenging targets out to 2030 and 2040 to ultimately be a more sustainable business. To hold ourselves accountable, we’ve set internal interim goals, so every year we’ll look at the flight path that we need to be on to achieve the end result. A target to 2040 seems like a long time frame so we’ve definitely got to keep things alive and keep holding people accountable with shorter-term targets to stay on track. 

One of the key areas we’re looking at is food as it's the biggest contributor to our greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve targeted Net Zero Carbon emissions by 2040, so we need to make some significant reductions in the emissions from the food we serve in our brands. 

We established a group in partnership with the World Resource Institute (WRI) as part of their Cool Food pledge campaign. Cool Food helps people and organizations reduce the climate impact of their food by shifting toward more plant-rich diets. By working with the WRI, we’re making tweaks and changes to our menus to help improve our emissions.

Foods like beef and lamb, for example, are the biggest contributors to carbon emissions. Working with suppliers to reduce the environmental impact of these items, as well as making tweaks to our menus to reduce overall emissions is a big step in M&B becoming more sustainable.’ 

Have you had any notable challenges or successes?

‘We’ve come a long way from where we were. We’ve set challenging targets and ambitions to really be industry-leading. I think the pandemic has definitely driven people to be even more environmentally aware but it certainly put our progress on hold for a while. We’ve remained focused though, and we know where we need to be.

Trying to encourage people to change the way that they’ve always done things can be quite challenging, but it’s all part of the learning process! For example, we’re looking at reducing our energy consumption - anyone can engage with this at any level. There are some easy wins to encourage people in their day to day jobs, like reducing waste and making sure they’re recycling properly. It’s a whole business effort.’

What advice would you give yourself ahead of the sustainability change in 2019?

‘If I could give myself any advice, it would be to not put pressure on myself to try to achieve everything straight away. The number of areas we could work on could be overwhelming but setting clear priority areas and focusing on those has helped us to make progress. Sustainability ambitions are long term and will continue to adapt and learn over time.

The biggest thing I’ve learned about sustainability is that you can’t possibly have all the answers. I’ve started to do a Master's in Sustainability which has been fully funded through M&B via an Apprenticeship scheme, and it’s helped give me that broader knowledge base. We’re all learning all the time though. Nobody knows what the answers are exactly, but we’ve all got to adapt and learn as we go. There’s a lot to be said for just starting on the journey of trying to operate more sustainably.

It's a long term journey for all companies, nobody is going to get there overnight!’

Have you been inspired by Amy’s ambition for a better future?

At M&B, our teams have a common goal of working towards a better, healthier future. We’re taking big steps to improve our carbon footprint and ultimately reduce our carbon emissions. If you’ve been inspired by Amy’s ambition, and you want to help us on our journey to becoming a hospitality industry leader in Net-Zero emissions, we’d love to hear from you. 

Browse our available bar and waiting jobs or kitchen jobs today and whip up a rewarding career with M&B.

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