In 2018, we overhauled our supply chain and removed the vast majority of single-use plastic items from sale. We did so by finding sustainable alternatives and working closely with food and retail suppliers.
As a conservation and education charity, protecting the environment is among our founding principles. Our breeding programmes for endangered species are world renowned and we deliver 80 projects in 30 countries worldwide to prevent extinction in the wild.
The single-use plastics battle is just one of a wide-ranging list of additional environmental achievements for us in 2018. Food and beverage deliveries to our pre-existing restaurants were also reduced by more than 30% compared to last year, resulting in a 20% reduction in food miles, thanks to changes made by our catering managers.
In the retail shops, our zoo ‘bags for life’ and pens are now made from recycled plastic bottles, while sweets that were previously wrapped in plastic are now sold in compostable bags.
We also installed electric car charging pods in the visitor car parks as part of a long-standing Sustainable Travel Scheme, which already subsidises bus travel and offers 15% discount entry to the zoo for cyclists. 100% of the electrical energy used in the zoo is sourced from renewable sustainable sources, such as wind and solar power – whether from the national grid or from the zoo’s own solar panels.
For the first time – and in a bid to inspire other organisations to follow suit – we’ve published this list of environmental achievements in 2018 within our 125 acre site.
Dom Strange, Chester Zoo’s Director of Operations, said:
Lots of small changes can make a big difference to the planet. With around 1.9m visitors a year, water saving devices in our guest toilets and tweaks to the products in our restaurants and shops can have a huge impact.
We’ve been committed to this for a number of years now; it’s part of our DNA. But we’ve never celebrated the achievements so publicly before by releasing the data. We think it’s important to talk about the issues. We haven’t yet eliminated 100% of single-use plastic from our supply chains because the alternatives are hard to find in some cases. It can be a challenge to persuade suppliers to provide environmentally friendly products, but the more we talk about these issues, the more we can find solutions together as a nation.
The sustainability successes include features within new building designs. We’ve recently built a new canteen for our 900 staff and 200 volunteers, partly from recycled crushed brick and stone from demolished buildings. Rain landing on the roof of the new building is now collected for use in the nearby Plant Project, where we care for highly threatened plant species.
Up-cycled second hand furniture has also been used to furnish our new restaurant, The Oakfield, after a major renovation project transformed the grade II listed family home of the zoo’s founder George Mottershead.
From water saving devices installed in visitor toilets to smart meters, energy efficient led lighting and high efficiency boilers, we have invested heavily this year.
The achievements come on top of long-running, high-profile efforts by our amazing conservationists to support and promote sustainable palm oil, to protect rainforest habitats for threatened wildlife like orangutans. The city of Chester set to become the wold’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City in 2019 thanks to a major Chester Zoo led campaign.