In 2007, Glenuig Inn in was bought and renovated with a purpose in mind; a vision that environmental sustainability should be at the fore. It was important to be able to demonstrate that it was possible to run a hospitality and tourism business efficiently, profitably and with minimal environmental footprint.
The main Glenuig Inn building pre-dates 1745, the village was connected to the Road to the Isles in 1966 when the road was built (previously it was a horse track) and was connected to the power grid in 1983! Today, the award-winning Inn is held an exemplar and has put in place a range of initiatives covering all aspects of environmental management.
Including operating on 100% renewable energy, banishing all single use plastic from the business, achieving a 97.5% reduction in waste to landfill, and using dried & sterilised food waste as part of the biomass to provide all the heating and hot water.
100% Renewable Energy
Since February 2015, we’ve operated using 100% renewable energy which includes 100% green electricity sourced from local hydro schemes. All the heating and hot water for the Inn, which has 34 bed spaces, a restaurant, bar and staff accommodation, is created using a biomass boiler which uses wood pellet and up to 10% by volume of dried & sterilised food waste.
Zero food waste leaves site, nor is it composted which has its own issues around rodents and odours. Instead, our food waste and food contaminated organic waste from the kitchen, restaurant, rooms and staff accommodation is dried, sterilized, & then co-mingled with wood pellet in the biomass boiler. The food waste is dried in a specialist food waste dryer which runs on an 8-hour cycle, the output is a dry crumb which looks a bit like garden compost and doesn’t smell.
The ash from the biomass boiler which still contains the minerals, oils and calcium from the dried food waste, is packaged in plastic tubs from the kitchen which are unavoidable and would otherwise be recycled, and given to guests to use on their own gardens. We also obviously use it for our own grounds.
Heat is removed from the cool store and kitchen and distributed passively throughout the public space, reducing significantly the space heating demand. The all electric kitchen use Induction hobs for efficiency and ease of cleaning, whilst the absence of deep fat fryers has not only reduced the business’ insurance premiums by 40%, but also means the kitchen has both a cleaner work environment and atmosphere devoid of unpleasant odours.
Waste to landfill
From a 2009 baseline, we’ve reduced our waste to landfill by 97.5 % by continuously reducing the variety of waste to landfill into waste streams we could re-use or re-cycle.
Just half a standard domestic wheelie bin per week is now sent to landfill and we are aiming to reduce this further.
Packaging Re-use and Re-cycle
In parallel to reducing the variety of waste streams, we also reduced the volume of packaging we arriving on site by choosing the right products from the right suppliers to minimize packaging. We work with all our suppliers on a ‘Take Back scheme’ requiring suppliers to remove and take back all outer packaging from their deliveries. Residual cardboard and all our polythene film & packaging, which is currently unavoidable, is sent by the pallet every few months for specialist recycling and makes use of an existing return journey from another delivery. Polystyrene fish boxes are taken back by the fish merchants.
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 out those whose supply ethos aligns with our drive to reduce our reliance upon re-cycling.
We source products which are as local, natural and organic as possible and from small independent suppliers by choice. Over 40% of our food ingredients are sourced in Scotland.
Wood fibre external insulation.
The very effective external insulation not only makes the building energy efficient, but ensures it remains at an ambient temperature with minimal heating. The breathable wood fibre insulation acts as a carbon sink. By wrapping the building externally with insulation (like a duvet) means that everything within it contributes to the thermal mass and creates a stable internal temperature. Subsequently, our heating bills are less in winter than in summer.
To create improved energy efficiency LED lighting was installed nearly 10 years ago inside and out. The bedrooms and bathrooms have recently been converted to LED. The bathrooms have motion sensitive extraction fans to reduce energy.
Single Use Plastic
We removed plastic straws during 2017 and will not be replacing them with anything else. Furthermore, we don’t buy any other individual single use plastics such as individual milk cartons and milk pots for the guest rooms (you get a flask of fresh milk instead), plastic drinks bottles, yoghurt cartons, crisp bags or black plastic refuse bags.
We have installed a laundry on site to remove the carbon emissions from transport so we can also make better use of the 100% renewable energy which creates our hot water.
It also means we can create more local employment and our linen and towels will need replacing less often as they can be washed at lower temperatures and cared for better rather than in a commercial laundry.