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Sustainable Sustainability

ALASTAIR ROY OF ARO PROCUREMENT LOOKS AT THE ROLE PROCUREMENT HAS TO PLAY TO MAKE SUSTAINABLE DECISIONS AFFORDABLE

The subject of sustainability might meet with a few groans, depending on your disposition, and for others it is the holy grail of how the world will thrive in the decades ahead, impacting everyone’s personal and professional lives. It is often perceived as expensive with sometimes intangible results and therefore, it is key to find ways of making sustainability strategies affordable and as a result, sustainable.

Despite the tumultuous past 18 months when surviving was and still is the name of the game, the sustainability drive is showing no sign of abating and in some ways it is perhaps the right time to find ways of embedding it at the centre of businesses to assist in the recovery. Most people have had time to think about how they wish to live their lives differently and have seen all too clearly the fragility all around us. A more thoughtful approach to sustainability and environmental matters in hospitality businesses could pay dividends in all sorts of ways. 

Sustainability is not only concerned with environmental matters, it is about being profitable at the same time as being mindful of taking good care of the environment and communities surrounding your business. Crucially, it is also about being authentic in actions taken – greenwashing or green sheen will very quickly be called out by customers and staff if sustainability values are inconsistent or deployed deceptively. Far better to decide what can be done within your business and do those things really well to build on the successes.

Sustainability is an enterprise wide initiative and procurement has a valuable part to play in seeking innovation in supply chains to analyse where cost can be removed which benefits the business, suppliers and ultimately the environment. One example is to look at how items are delivered from your key food suppliers – reusable containers should be a priority to minimise single use plastic packaging or any other packaging which has to be recycled or potentially placed in landfill. By reducing packaging, the waste and recycling costs in your business will reduce and there is an argument to negotiate a reduction on the cost of goods because the supplier is not incurring additional costs for superfluous packaging. A win win all round.

Energy and water consumption are obvious areas to explore ways of finding efficiencies while making cost savings to reduce the carbon footprint. It might involve capital investment for more advanced building management systems, incorporating smart monitoring to control usage more effectively but technologies are constantly advancing, resulting in lower costs to access.

Reducing reliance on single use plastic and glass bottles are another obvious source of making your business more sustainable. Think of ways in which you could help redefine customers perceptions of how they can contribute to the sustainability mission. If your hotel stocks products such as Fiji water, typically perceived as a high-end, luxury water product – there is probably an oxymoron in that last description somewhere – think of reframing what luxury could mean and instead offer a reusable glass or ceramic caraffe, filled with local Scottish water from the tap, perhaps using active charcoal as a filter to provide customers with that extra reassurance.

Bathroom amenities including the soaps and shampoos can also be targeted to ensure the products are free of parabens, silicone and single use plastics. The shower caps, toothbrushes and shaving kits can also be switched to products made from recycled materials. Look to the supply chain to help you fulfil your sustainability goals for your business.

Minimisation of food waste is a huge factor in the hospitality sector and seeking ways to divert waste and convert it into animal feed, fertiliser and fuel all contribute to making sustainabilty more achievable.

Consider that every step in the procurement process is an opportunity to integrate an environmental improvement. When all the incremental improvements are combined, real and sustainable change will have occurred and your business and the world will be a better place for it. 

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