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As a hotelier, your visitors are your pride and joy, and providing an enjoyable, relaxing stay is your highest priority. But as we head towards a greener economy, the sustainability of your business is a growing priority too. Adopting eco-friendly practices is a worldwide effort, with many companies making significant adjustments to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Recent research has revealed that hotels, in particular, struggle with reducing their carbon footprint (the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated through our actions). This is often because these businesses lack understanding of the issue, while owners also fear the cost of investment. However, it’s vital for hotels to get on board, not just for the benefit of the environment but to win over more customers, with over half of consumers preferring to stay in environmentally friendly accommodation.
While eco hotels are popping up around the UK, there’s still plenty of room for improvement, and going green has to be a priority for the sake of the planet’s future. Sustainability is the forefront of what we do at Bywaters, helping organisations reduce their carbon impact, including those in the hospitality industry. If you need a little helping hand getting started, here’s how your hotel can improve its sustainability credentials.
Install water refill stations
Hotels use single-use plastic for ease and convenience, but these buildings tend to be bustling hubs all year round and the waste soon adds up. Disposable plastic products do not biodegrade, and therefore continue to have an environmental impact for years. Alongside items such as packaged tea and coffee, laundry bags and straws, plastic water bottles are a big problem. One 200 room hotel can use around 300,000 pieces of single-use plastic in a month if at full capacity — 20,000 of this is water bottles.
For hotels to combat the plastic waste issue, installing water refill stations around your buildings is a great way to reduce how many plastic water bottles end up in landfill. Refillable water stations dotted around the main hubs of your hotel and corridors will dispense clean water for everyone and cut down on waste, helping to promote sustainability. You can also supply guests with a reusable bottle when checking in to ensure they don’t create waste by bringing their own plastic bottles onto your premises.
Eliminate single-use toiletries
Everyone loves the miniature toiletries you receive at hotels — they’re a novelty. However, these come with an environmental price tag. The Guardian reported that over 200 million miniatures are dumped in landfill each year, massively contributing to the plastic issue the world is battling. The toiletries you provide for convenience likely end up in the bin, unless you offer alternatives to guests.
To tackle this, swap miniature bottles of shampoo, shower gel and conditioner for bulk dispensers. These will not only save the planet, but also lower business costs, as you won’t need to frequently stock single-use products. You can even encourage guests to bring their own refillable travel bottles by simply mentioning it in the booking information.
Explore innovative tech
As the digital age continues to advance, new technologies are being invented and upgraded frequently, and this includes software and devices that could refine how businesses operate and bolster their sustainability efforts. These have the ability to reduce significant amounts of waste within the sector.
Continuous performance monitoring, for example, is a great solution for keeping track of your hotel’s temperature controls, enabling you to see the performance of your building and optimise where necessary. Another option is renewable energy. There are various technical units on the market that generate electricity in sustainable ways. CPH (Combined Power and Heat) units utilise thermal energy to heat a building, for instance.
We’ve done our bit at Bywaters by helping revolutionise waste management at the Royal National Hotel using ‘the Pod’. This is a miniature compaction unit that takes up the same space as six 100L wheeled containers, but is able to compact as much as four tonnes of waste.
Provide a sustainable menu
Livestock rearing and meat consumption releases greenhouse gases such as methane, CO2 and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. The production involved also causes deforestation, depletes water resources and leads to soil degradation. Consequently, dietary changes could lower global greenhouse gas emissions by up to eight million tonnes a year by 2050. As hotels provide catering options, owners must consider what food is offered and how they source produce.
You can create a more sustainable menu by offering plant-based meals created using locally sourced and in-season produce — think less meat, more vegetables. Growing your own fruit and veg, if you have the space on your premises, is another option, helping to reduce your environmental impact and save money at the same time. Switching physical paper menus for digital app ordering systems is a good idea as well, this can tackle paper waste.
Speaking of food: one in six meals are wasted in the hospitality industry, either due to overproduction and customer leftovers. This is not only a problem in terms of sustainability, but also for the financial side of things. Food that enters landfill decomposes and produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, while wasting large portions will cost you money.
Food can be recycled, but your hotel can also start composting it. This is a natural process enabling you to manage the decomposition of organic material, and turn it into a nutrient rich soil that can be used in your gardens. Depending on the size of your hotel, you may compost onsite or have your waste sent elsewhere.
To start composting, you’ll need to save all food scraps and leftovers — place suitable bins in your hotel’s kitchens and hub areas to help staff and guests dispose of items easily . Combine these in a suitable container or pile alongside garden waste, like leaves and grass, to add a dry element. In just six to eight weeks, your compost should be ready.
Utilise energy saving technologies
It’s been estimated that over 75% of hotels’ environmental impacts can be directly related to excessive consumption. Individually, one hotel isn’t enough to cause a significant problem, but collectively, the story is different. Overconsumption of energy, in particular, is extremely costly to hotel businesses. They require constant energy to provide guests with heating, hot water and electricity, but this is unsustainable for our resources. Take a small hotel with 25 rooms or less — for every square meter of a bedroom, 300 kWh of gas is used per year, and around 100 kWh of electricity.
You can reduce your hotel’s carbon footprint by installing energy-saving technologies. Take a look at the appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling systems used within your building and identify how these could be more energy-efficient. Smart climate control, lighting and solar panel technology are all excellent alternatives to conventional energy solutions. Being resourceful about energy usage is important too. Travelodge reports that turning off the heat in empty rooms can cut energy consumption by 40%, so if you don’t need to use it, switch it off.
Hotels produce over 289,700 tonnes of waste every year in the UK, including items such as packaging, food waste and toiletry containers. Recycling is key to reducing how much waste your business generates, and while at first, it may seem daunting to know how and what practices to implement, once you’re in the know, it’s easy. Sending rubbish to landfill can be costly, so it makes sense for your business to reduce and recycle waste where possible to protect the environment and save financially.
Providing rooms with recycling bins is a great place to start. Ensure these are clearly labelled and that you have a hotel waste management strategy in place to correctly manage and dispose of rubbish. Supply two bins — one for bottles, cans and cardboard (dry mixed recycling) and one for general waste. Having the right bins will make the process much easier to achieve. At Bywaters, we recycle everything from dry mixed recycling (including plastic) and glass, to food and used coffee grounds, and can provide you with the right containers for any waste you need to dispose of.