Pensons Scoops the Sustainability Award at the 2023 National Restaurant Awards
The winners of the 2023 Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards were announced last night, June 12th, at London’s Hurlingham Club.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association was very proud to judge this year’s Sustainability Award. With a shortlist of six innovative restaurants, the competition was tough in the best possible way.
The Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards Sustainability Award shortlist 2023:
• Native at Browns
Here’s why we named Pensons as the winner of the 2023 Sustainability Award.
A commitment to experimentation
Sustainability has been at the heart of Pensons' ethos since they first opened their doors four and a half years ago. The restaurant views sustainability as a holistic endeavour that includes their team and the local community as well as the environment.
The team is dedicated to finding more sustainable ways of working. They admit this still hasn’t given them all the answers, but what shines through is a commitment to experimentation, trialling creative solutions to complex issues – even the ‘un-sexy’ ones. One classic example is the creation of their own on-site laundry, a clever and effective initiative that has earned them this year’s Sustainability Award.
“Not only does the development of an on-site laundry have significant environmental benefits – that Pensons have measured and quantified – but it shines a light on the growing issue of water scarcity and has even created a new employment opportunity. This initiative demonstrates the importance of taking a holistic and creative approach to sustainability to find solutions that work for your business. Congratulations to Pensons on winning this year’s Sustainability Award.”
– Juliane Caillouette Noble, Managing Director of The Sustainable Restaurant Association.
Measure, improve, then measure again
An ongoing process of evaluation means that the Pensons team is always on the look-out for ways to improve. Last year, this analysis showed that the restaurants’ laundry service was not only demanding high energy use, high water consumption and chemical detergents, but also required a 160-mile weekly round trip. The restaurant had no control over the machinery or products used or how energy was sourced. After conducting a feasibility study, Pensons decided to set up their own on-site laundry to mitigate and reduce these impacts.
They were able to re-purpose an existing building to house the laundry and installed A+++ washing machines and driers, as well as facilities for air-drying. These are powered by photovoltaic solar panels on the roof (35.2 kWp), which provide all the clean energy required to power the laundry operations and some excess for use across the business.
Water efficiency is often overlooked by restaurants, but was another top priority. They capture and store rainwater on-site, which is then filtered and provides the bulk of the water required for the washers. Non-toxic, bio-degradable, phosphate- and bleach-free detergent is used on all laundry to limit chemical use.
The team understands the importance of measuring progress and has calculated the positive impact of this on-site laundry:
- Avoiding a 160-mile weekly round trip saves 8,300 miles and 15,000kg of CO2 every year.
- The washers, dryers and irons use 6,370 kwh per year. This is generated entirely from on-site solar panels, saving 1,485kg of CO2 annually.
- The washing machines are the most efficient on the market but still use 2,000 litres of water a week. However, thanks to Penson’s rainwater collection, 75% of this comes from collected grey and rainwater.
- In addition, the laundry has created a new full-time employment position.
Pensons’ commitment to ongoing analysis identified a project that not only saves the business money, but has decreased their reliance on precious resources, reducing their carbon footprint and chemical usage while creating a new employment opportunity.
A 'green' laundry might not be a high-profile, customer-facing project, but its effect has been significant. Measuring and communicating the many positive impacts that have already been realised from this project is an excellent example of ‘washing green’ – not greenwashing!
In addition to the fantastic initiative outlined above, there were other factors that fed into our decision.
- Sustainable sourcing: From the outset, the team at Pensons has concentrated on hyper-local sourcing and traceability. This included creating a 2.5-acre on-site kitchen garden that supplies the chefs and mixologist, as well as maximising the sourcing possibilities from the Estate (including foraging for wild food and sourcing their own rapeseed oil and cider). They collaborate with local farmers and carefully selected fishers who use the most sustainable fishing practices in Devon and Cornwall.
- Supporting local: To furnish the restaurant, bespoke fabrics and napkins were created from the on-site weaving mill, crockery was sourced from local potters and knives from the neighbouring blacksmith.
- Waste management: The restaurant operates a closed-loop composting system whereby all green kitchen waste is composted, along with all shredded brown cardboard (from wine boxes etc). This is added to the vegetable beds, which – along with a no-dig policy – improves soil fertility and structure and eliminates the need for artificial fertilisers. Harvested rainwater is used to irrigate the kitchen garden.
- Community involvement: Spare produce is donated to the local food bank. Staff participate in a biannual litter-pick of the verges around Pensons. In 2022, £6,500 was raised for the Ukrainian Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
- Treating staff fairly: The team at Pensons is highly valued and supported, with a wide range of employee benefits and personal development opportunities available to staff, including group trips to other Michelin-starred restaurants and paid time off for volunteer work.
Pensons completed The Food Made Good Standard in 2022, garnering two stars for their dedication to sustainable business practices. The Food Made Good Standard is the world’s largest sustainability certification tailored for the hospitality sector.
The team at The Sustainable Restaurant Association would like to congratulate everyone at Pensons for this well-deserved win.
For the full list of winners, visit the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards website here. To learn more about the Food Made Good Standard, click here.
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