Glenuig Inn was renovated 12 years ago with sustainability at its heart and as a multi award winning sustainable business, and Scotland’s exemplar green Inn, we have always considered the environmental impact of everything we do.
We are proud to have won numerous international and national awards in recognition of our efforts and we regularly work to share best practice and ideas. In 2007 we set out to prove that it is possible to operate a leisure and tourism business in a remote location both efficiently and profitably with minimal environmental impact.
“We believe that a holistic approach to creating a sustainable business is the only way to achieve real success both for the environment and the bottom line. We hope we can inspire others to make the right choices to a sustainable future”
The original building pre-dates the Jacobite Revolution in 1745 and is nestled in a relatively remote bay on the Sound of Arisaig in the West Highlands of Scotland.
The challenges were and still are far reaching but during the renovation and to the present day we set about implementing a host of initiatives covering all aspects of environmental management whilst looking to the future to ensure that the concept itself was sustainable.
Also important is preserving the environment around us, so encouraging biodiversity and protecting the very thing that the area is renowned for . . . beautiful unspoilt countryside, coastline and waters.
In reality, that means that we use 100% renewable energy, we don’t have any single use plastics, we have reduced waste to landfill by 98.5%, no food waste leaves site nor is it composted, and the garden and immediate area is full of birdsong and wildlife.
In context, we can sleep up to 21 people, we are open all year, we have a bar and restaurant, and out of geographic necessity practically all the team live in and care as much as we do about the environment and its future.
100% Renewable Energy
Since February 2015, we have operated using 100% renewable energy from biomass for our heating and hot water and 100% green electricity sourced as locally as possible from hydro schemes. The biomass boiler uses wood pellet and up to 10% by volume of dried & sterilised food waste incorporated into it.
Today, the topics of food waste and food security is high on everyone’s agenda. In February 2015 we installed a system to enable us to use any food waste or organic waste (ie paper napkins) as part of the fuel mix to provide heating and hot water.
We installed a Food Waste Dryer which dries and sterilises all the food waste on site and which is then co-mingled with wood pellet in the biomass boiler to provide heating and hot water.
Consequently we have a clean and efficient process to deal with food waste which doesn’t involve composting, storing or relying on collection by waste contractors even if it was available on our remote location.
The food waste is dried on an 8-hour cycle, the output is a dry crumb which looks a bit like garden compost and doesn’t smell.
At the same time, our kitchen team exercise excellent portion control to reduce the leftovers and we buy ingredients specifically to match a menu which has minimal waste.
The circular economy plays out with the final piece of the food waste / renewable energy jigsaw . . . the ash from the biomass boiler which still contains the minerals and calcium from the dried food waste, is packaged into large plastic catering tubs from the kitchen which are unavoidable and would otherwise be recycled. This organic fertiliser is given to guests to use on their own gardens. We also obviously use it for ours too . . .
The fridges and freezers which are in our cool store generate heat which can be put to good use. We remove the slightly warmed air from the cool store via the kitchen, where it collects more heat and then distribute the twice warmed air passively throughout the public space via two ‘paddle pump’ doors. This significantly reduces the space heating demand for the public areas before being extracted into the outside air via the restrooms.
The kitchen is all electric and uses Induction hobs for efficiency and ease of cleaning; the absence of deep fat fryers has not only reduced the business’ insurance premiums by 40%, but also means the kitchen is a cleaner work environment, there are no unpleasant ‘cooking’ smells and we serve healthier food!
Waste to landfill
Since a 2009 baseline we’ve worked really hard to reduce our waste to landfill by over 98.5% by continuously reducing the waste streams and ensuring that re-use and re-cycling is priority.
Under half a standard domestic wheelie bin per week is now sent to landfill in peak season and our dry recyclate is never more than one domestic wheelie bin per week. We also try to encourage our visitors to think about any packaging and waste they might leave with us!
Packaging Take Back
As we’ve reduced the number and variety of waste streams, we have significantly reduced the volume of packaging arriving on site by choosing the right products from the right suppliers, who in turn share best practice with their other customers.
The Packaging Take Back scheme means that our suppliers have to remove and take back all outer packaging from their deliveries. Since this started in early 2018, behaviours have changed across our supply chain and we now scarcely have enough cardboard to light the fires in winter! Therefore cardboard is no longer a waste stream for us.
Any unavoidable polythene & packaging waste is collected and sent on a pallet every few months for specialist recycling. This journey makes use of an existing return journey from another delivery. Polystyrene fish boxes are washed and taken back by the fish merchants to be reused.
In 2018 we changed the suppliers of a range of soft drinks so we could offer a product which was more natural (and has less sugar), and which comes in bottles 18% lighter in weight than the previous for the same quantity of drink. So when the pallets of drink are delivered the overall carbon footprint of transport is less.
However, as we don’t have glass collection we have to take all our glass 30 miles for recycling, the lighter bottles mean fewer journeys per annum however looking to the future it is probably a waste stream we no longer need so we are currently working on a project to reassess what we buy, how it is delivered and what we do to dispose of it.
Sustainable supply chain management
We work with our suppliers to get deliveries in as large quantities as possible to reduce the carbon impact of transport. We look for suppliers with green credentials, and positively seek those whose supply ethos aligns with our drive to reduce reliance upon re-cycling.
We source products which are as local, natural and healthy as possible, and out of preference buy from small independent suppliers with green credentials.
Our food contains over 40% of ingredients from Scotland and it is all made on the premises. We only sell real ale so there is no man-made CO2 on site, all our soft drinks are natural & organic, all our wines are organic, we have a wide range of Scottish Highlands and Islands gins and our whisky is un-chill filtered from independent distilleries.
LED lighting was installed over 10 years ago both internally and externally in the drive to become more energy efficient. In our accommodation building we have recently converted the bedrooms and bathrooms to LED and the bathrooms have PIR extraction fans installed with the aim of reducing energy consumption.
When the building was renovated, it was wrapped externally with insulation (like a duvet) meaning that everything within it contributes to the thermal mass, thus creating a stable internal temperature, as well as making the building energy efficient. The breathable wood fibre insulation also acts as a carbon sink.
Single Use Plastic
During 2017, we stopped buying single use plastics and removed plastic straws with no intention of replacing them with anything else. At the same time, we stopped buying any other single use plastics such as individual milk cartons, milk pots for the guest rooms, toiletries, plastic drinks bottles, individual yoghurt cartons and crisp bags.
Instead when you stay, we use a natural and organic shower and soap from dispensers in the rooms and we offer a flask of fresh milk for coffee and teas. In the bar there is a range of delicious snacks and nuts sold by the pot – you help yourself and mix and match, and we have hardly ever been asked for a straw!
In late 2017, we installed an on site laundry as the available external commercial laundries didn’t fully share our environmental concerns and due to our remote location it also made sense to reduce environmental impact of transport. Previously, the laundry was collected twice a week in the summer and delivered back from their site over 35 miles away.
Not only does our laundry operation now both stay on site and run on 100% renewable energy, but we also use phosphate free powders and wash at lower temperatures meaning our laundry is better cared for and lasts longer – multiple wins!
At the same time we also replaced all of our linen and bedding. We donated our old linen to the Highland Home Start charity in Fort William and gave away our old towels to guests who stayed with their dogs – you can never have enough dog towels!