Sustainability in the hospitality sector is a hot topic that only looks set to grow in the coming years, with both internal focus intensifying and customer awareness growing.
For an industry that is responsible for approximately 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions, reducing water and energy use, minimising waste and reducing CO2 emissions is essential.
Utilising an independent environmental certification such as Green Key allows hospitality businesses to focus their efforts on sustainability and shout about their impacts.
One hotel chain working with Green Key to seek accreditation for all their hotels in the UK is Hydrofinity customer, Marriott International. In addition to their internal ‘Serve 360’ programme, Marriott want to gain recognition for their environmental management and staff and guest engagement through the Green Key programme.
1. Educate and Engage Guests
With a focus on education as well as improved operations, Green Key encourages businesses to engage a wide range of staff in implementing processes to communicate their work with guests, encouraging them to be part of the solution by helping to reduce resource use.
Marriott Hotel’s ‘Make a Greener Choice’ is a perfect example of this, by offering guests the opportunity to receive members points or a cash voucher in return for leaving their room un-serviced for up to 3 days.
Putting the onus on guests can feel like a risk, but done in the right way, possibly through rewards and at least in a positive manner can help get guests on the side of sustainability and can even be a unique selling point.
A hotel can also market its green credentials to guests by communicating cycling and walking routes, and highlighting local attractions and interest points.
2. Use Green Products And Practices
In Green Key’s flagship Marriott Hotel at Heathrow Airport, there are a number of other green initiatives in place, including a Hydrofinity washing machine, which is saving the property water and energy and driving them to bring more laundry in-house.
In the Green Key review of housekeeping practices, establishments are required to use environmentally friendly cleaning products with a mark such as the EU Eco-Label. The same goes for paper towels, toilet paper and paper used for printing – all of these should have an environmental label such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified or made from recycled paper.
Under Green Key standards, pesticides and fertilisers should not be used unless there is no natural or organic alternative, as there are direct and indirect environmental implications for the use of carbon-based chemicals in green space management.
3. Serve Green Fodder
Additionally, the restaurant’s menu should contain items that are organically and/or locally produced or have an eco-label such as Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance. In line with the education element of the award, these products are then highlighted on the menu to customers.
To reduce an establishment’s environmental footprint, food waste should be minimised by closely monitoring wastage, returns and surplus stock. There are schemes such as Too Good To Go, which offer restaurants the opportunity to sell any leftovers at close of shift at a reduced rate via a simple app. Giving surplus food away to local charities and food banks is also a way of reducing food waste and making links with the community – another tick in the box for Green Key award.
Any fruit and vegetable peelings or leftovers should be composted, ideally on site to reduce transportation. Business-based composting could also support in-house food growing, even if it is only herbs that are used in the kitchen; this is an example of circular economy.
About Green Key
Green Key is an international eco-label for tourism facilities, which has been established for 25 years and now has over 3,000 awarded establishments in 57 countries.
Since 1994, Green Key has been a leading standard of excellence in environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the tourism industry, providing a well-proven framework for an establishment to work with its environmental management on sustainability issues, including awareness raising.
The Green Key programme is coordinated internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education and has recently been established in the UK, with applications from hospitality and tourism businesses being encouraged.
Find out more about Green Key and how to apply by contacting Emma Whitlock at firstname.lastname@example.org