by Alastair Roy, ARO Procurement
Businesses across all sectors are making their contributions in becoming more sustainable and it’s probably fair to say that all are at differing stages of evolution.
Sustainability strategies are often developed as a direct response to client and guest expectations or sometimes an assumption of what those expectations are and at other times simply because they make sense financially and the biproduct is a benefit which ticks the sustainability box.
There are also unavoidable legislative requirements, some which are right and legitimate and others perhaps more questionable and ill conceived. Notwithstanding good intentions, it can seem that there remains a dearth of options to make the sustainable transition without considerable cost increases.
A recent first hand example highlighting this was identified while looking at disposable coffee cups where the biodegradable option was more than four times higher than the lower priced non compostable cup.
It is potentially like buying organic, in that those products are usually more expensive but the benefits are typically positive. Therefore, as an industry how do we influence the supplier community to provide options which are sustainable but don’t break the bank?
Product cost make up includes the materials for the product plus labour, packaging and naturally, profit. Whilst not suggesting that suppliers are adding a sustainability premium to the cost of more environmentally desirable products, as a collective, we need to work on creating the critical mass of demand to make the sustainable product the easy and more affordable choice.
Affordable and desirable sustainable products aside, there are still lots of initiatives some of which have been ongoing for a while that can be implemented and which will yield benefits.
Gain an understanding on where your business could become more sustainable and examples include:
- Reduction in energy consumption and reliance on fossil fuels by switching to heat pumps; solar panels or wind turbine for water heating and electricity generation; installing motion detectors to manage heating and lighting in guest rooms, corridors and public spaces; reduction in thermostat temperatures; when equipment is due to be replaced switch from gas powered to electric options; checking insulation is fit for purpose
- Elimination of single use plastics by switching to bulk toiletries dispensers
- Reduce general waste overall and particularly focus on food waste, measure leftovers and gain a double benefit by reducing quantities purchased thus saving money and reduce the amount of food thrown away which will subsequently reduce the production of methane resulting from the breakdown of food waste
- Encourage less water consumption in public, guest room and back of house spaces with subtle and consistent communication methods When setting sourcing targets for buying local, make the targets achievable – there is no point in saying that all products will be purchased from suppliers within a radius of 30 miles when products such as coffee and tea are included in the targets given Brazil is ranked as the world’s number one producer of coffee and China has that accolade for tea.
- On that note, a cup of tea or coffee might help when pondering the mammoth sustainability task ahead but the hospitality industry will always find creative and radical ways to deliver on the brief and succeed.