Here is a fact that we should all be aware of: the United Nations World Tourism Organization estimates that hotels account for around 1 percent of global emissions, and if this is not attended to, it could only grow. For an establishment in hospitality to remain long-lasting, it is essential that they think about the future—not merely for the sake of being resilient, but to be sustainable as well, in an effort to contribute to the rest of the industry, and ultimately, the world.
Before we proceed, we have to ask—what is sustainability? To put it simply, this means that natural ecosystems can continue to support life and provide resources to meet the needs of the present and the future generations. Sustainability isn’t just about managing the environment, but about social development and economic progress too. Everywhere we look, it seems that more and more individuals and businesses are understanding the importance of going ‘green’—from numerous recycling and energy-saving policies to encouraging groups to recycle. Everyone is affected by climate change and it only makes sense to invest in being more sustainable moving forward.
There are a number of ways that an establishment in the hospitality industry can improve their efficiency to be more sustainable. Practicing sustainability is so much more than simply conserving energy and water. In this blog article, we will focus on three important aspects to help you further understand this: reducing food waste, lowering carbon emissions, and designing for the future.
Reducing Food Waste
Come to think about it, when you enter a restaurant or grab coffee at your favorite café, how much food that particular establishment is wasting is the last thing on your mind. But it should be, especially if you’re looking to enter the industry— according to experts, food waste is the leading type of waste in hospitality. A 2016 study by the nonprofit ReFED showed that the food service industry throws away the remaining 40 percent of food.
So how can companies improve to better manage their food production? First and foremost, planning is essential. A hotel can track food wastage by conducting a food waste audit, and then later on, creating a plan for leftovers, which can be donated. This also includes evaluating inventory to learn what food is currently stored and to avoid wasting ingredients before they are prepared. Last but definitely not the least, another suggestion is to compost. They can opt to compost food on their property or with a composting partner.
Lowering Carbon Emissions
We must point out that since 1990, global emissions of carbon dioxide has increased by almost 50 percent. The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance mentions that because of this, the hotel industry as a whole must lower its carbon emissions by 66 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050, to stay within the 2 degree Celsius threshold agreed upon by the Paris Climate Accord.
So how exactly can an establishment lower their carbon emissions? One can contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change through both big and small steps, such as promoting sustainable designs for buildings, increasing renewable energy usage, and recycling. In addition to this, establishments can also use tools such as the online resource that is Hotel Footprinting, which is designed to help them benchmark their carbon emissions and energy usage and generate carbon footprint results. By using real data provided by the industry, this tool also assists potential eco-conscious customers with their booking decisions.
Designing for the Future
The hotel industry has definitely faced a number of challenges in the last few years, the most recent one being adjusting to the pandemic. To get more insight on how we can overcome this, we can look at a 2019 study by the Urban Land Institute in Washington D.C. entitled “Sustainability in Hotels: Opportunities and Trends Shaping.” The study, which focused on opportunities and trends shaping the future of hospitality, included sustainable design strategies. Modular construction, or the use of prefabricated and identical modules that are built off site in a controlled environment, is one way. The modules are then brought to the construction site to form a unified structure, which ends up reducing time and waste. Another way is to use sustainable materials, such as removing plastic straws in dining areas. The study also listed other ways, such as guest room technology for a more personal and user-friendly experience and a heightened focus on health and wellness by offering a number of amenities to guests.
As the hospitality industry is starting to recover from the global pandemic, it is the perfect time to truly understand the value of hospitality. It touches more people than you realize. From these experiences, the sector should only grow stronger, creating well thought out plans and designing to be more sustainable and resilient in the future.