After the turmoil of the last few years, the hospitality sector is finally returning to normal. With the world working towards economic recovery, the question of sustainability and the environment is on everyone’s mind. While revenues are rising, global supply chain and energy shortages are still proving to be a significant challenge in the way of profitability. It is here that a greener approach to hospitality can help reduce overheads as well as your carbon footprint.
Sustainability on the macro scale
The tourism sector represents about 10% of the world’s GDP, with 1 in 10 people being employed by the industry in some way. Hospitality makes up a significant portion of that business and efforts to combat climate change should reflect this. Indeed, it is in the industry’s best interest to work towards a sustainable future because it is the only way to preserve the areas of natural beauty that attract tourists in the first place.
Maya Bay, an area of outstanding natural beauty in Thailand, was nearly stripped of its coral reefs after years of heavy tourism. This led to a rapid decline in numbers and the collapse of the local tourism industry. Carbon offsetting is an increasingly popular way for companies to mitigate their impact on the environment while contributing to initiatives that can transform lives. These same services are becoming available to tourists too, enabling them to reduce the environmental cost associated with their travel by, for example, paying to have trees planted.
As highlighted in the run up to COP26 last year, the hospitality industry is currently responsible for around 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. While progress is being made, it may not be fast enough to avoid punishing legislation as countries push to meet the goal of net zero by 2050. Many of the industry’s largest companies are already publishing sustainability reports but it’s clear that more is needed. Ensuring continued, sustainable business in the long term will require cooperation between companies from across the sector on both the regional and national scales.
Green is good
Sustainability doesn’t have to be a burden. Many of the practices for reducing your business’ carbon footprint will have the added benefit of reducing waste, increasing efficiency and lowering running costs as a result.
Food systems are one of the primary driving factors behind climate change, accounting for a third of greenhouse gasses worldwide. The preparation and serving of food is a huge part of hospitality and is one of the main areas that businesses can make a difference. Going “farm-to-table” is a commonly heard buzzword in today’s restaurant industry and for good reason. Not only does this approach reduce your carbon footprint but the locally grown, seasonal ingredients can ensure much higher quality food and boost your business’ reputation.
Finally, businesses should be looking for innovative ways to improve efficiency and reduce waste. There are hundreds of ways this can be achieved but measures like rain water harvesting, voluntary linen reuse and eliminating single-use plastic can be effective at reducing waste and costs at the same time.
Meeting COP26’s ambitious net zero by 2050 goal will require an entirely reimagined approach to business for countless sectors. Hospitality is uniquely placed as an industry that contributes significantly to climate change despite a vested interest in preserving local ecosystems. Indeed, to avoid a cannibalistic approach to business and maintain viability moving forwards the hospitality sector is going to have to increase its efforts to go green.