How Green Is Your Hotel?

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Hoteliers Find Alternatives to Plastic Water Bottles

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Sustainability-minded hotels in regions around the world are reducing—or completely doing away with—the use of plastic water bottles onproperty by making reusable bottles and water stations readily available to guests.

GLOBAL REPORT—Much of the hotel industry recently has been focusing plastic-reduction efforts on single-use plastic straws, but environmentally conscious hotels around the globe also are reducing waste from plastic water bottles by offering guests more sustainable options for fresh water. At the Rose Garden Hotel Yangon in Myanmar, Go Green water stations are easily accessible in the hotel’s lobby, GM Alex Scheible said.
“From the beginning, during our hotel’s opening over three years back, we (decided) to reduce plastic wastage not only avoiding plastic bottles, but also offering dispensers for bathroom (amenities) instead of individually packed (toiletries), using recyclable paper take-away containers as much as we can, and we banned drinking straws,” he said. Reusable bottles made out of recycled aluminum are available to guests as well as meetings attendees. Scheible said the Go Green stations are also located in each meeting room and pre-function area at the Rose Garden.

“The idea is that (guests) take the bottles along on their trip and back home, refilling them, instead of buying PVC bottles,” he said. “Of course, we are not naive and are aware that aluminum production and recycling consumes a lot of energy with high CO2 emissions. Therefore, it makes sense only if the bottles are reused.” Since implementing the water stations, refillable bottles and Go Green meetings packages three years ago, Scheible said the hotel has avoided approximately 1 million non-degradable PVC bottles. “Our guests can travel with a good conscience, reducing their plastic footprint, when traveling through Myanmar; be it on leisure or business,” he said. “Especially in developing countries like Myanmar, environmental pollution is a huge problem that needs to be tackled.”

Canopy by Hilton. The Canopy by Hilton brand launched in 2014, and since then, the brand has been committed to sustainability and the environment, according to Gary Steffen, global head of Canopy.

All Canopy properties offer guests glass refillable water bottles as well as filtered water stations on every floor. The Canopy Reykjavik City Centre in Iceland features water that has been “lava-filtered through a long, natural process,” Steffen said. He added that guests have had a positive response to the environmentally-friendly water options. He said Canopy’s continued focus on eco-friendly efforts as well as providing the best possible inroom experience has shown success in building brand loyalty. “Canopy’s sustainable efforts and authentically local experiences have seen an overwhelming amount of support from our guests who expect a level of thoughtfulness in choosing a hotel,” he said. “Canopy has followed a thoughtful approach in creating the identity of the brand, with sustainability being a large part of that.”

Even Hotels. At Even Hotels locations, “hydration has been an integral aspect of our brand experience and design offering from the beginning,” said Stacy Bedsole, head of global brand experience and design for InterContinental Hotels Group’s Even brand. “Water stations have been part of the Even Hotels guest experience since the brand’s inception in 2014, and every Even Hotels guestroom across the estate offers a reusable water bottle for each guest’s stay,” she said.

A reusable water bottle is part of the in-room amenities for each guest, Bedsole said, and filtered water stations are located on every floor or every other floor, depending on the hotel.Even’s goal is to help guests stay on track with their wellness routines while they are on the road, and the “ease of access to hydration” is part of that, she said. “For Even Hotels, it’s not about a cost-savings measure but instead about providing our guests with access to options so they can prioritize staying well and balanced when they travel,” she said. “Inherently, by offering and encouraging the use of reusable water bottles, this is one way we support sustainable efforts.” Stations with flavored water are also available to guests in the lobby, Bedsole said.

Cayuga Collection. At properties under Cayuga Collection, plastic water bottles were banned from all properties about eight years ago, according to Hans Pfister, cofounder and president of Cayuga. “Even if it was in fashion, when people still thought that recycling was OK and plastic water bottles were OK, since we are often in coastal areas, we saw the damage … and decided to get rid of them, the plastic water bottles and plastic straws, a long time ago,” he said.

At on-property restaurants, Pfister said guests are served tap water with ice, like at any restaurant. If a guest asks for sparkling water, he said they are served local sparkling water in a glass bottle. Guests can bring their own refillable water bottle or purchase one from the hotel. “In terms of going on hikes or going on excursions, what we do is we either ask our guests to bring a reusable water bottle from home–a lot of people use them now– or we lend them one or they can purchase one in our (gift shop) at cost so that they have a reusable water bottle during their stay,” he said. The commitment to eliminating plastic water bottles onproperty extends to before guests even arrive at the hotel. When guests are picked up from the airport, Pfister said, they
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are given sealed, glass water bottles with the hotel’s name on them, which are then returned, washed and refilled with water.

Challenges of plastic elimination. Using refillable water bottles that aren’t plastic is very important to Cayuga, but Pfister said the company struggled at first to find an alternative to plastic bottles for the minibar.
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Sustainability at a price. Some hotels look to sustainable initiatives to cut cost for utilities such as electric bills, but Pfister said he hasn’t seen any cost savings by eliminating plastic water bottles at Cayuga properties. “It’s costing us money, but that’s quite OK,” he said. “It makes me quite upset that people only think that sustainable practices in hotels should only save money, but sometimes to do the right thing it costs a little bit more, and that’s quite OK.”

A Luxury Hotel Chain is Making it

Hip to Ditch Single Use Plastic

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A night in a hotel is, by definition, single use. After each guest’s stay, the sheets are cleaned, the minibar restocked, a new keycard issued—with each individual amenity leaving its own impact on the environment.

Ian Schrager’s boutique luxury hotel chain EDITION Hotels, which is co-owned by Marriot, is trying to cut down on the most environmentally damaging of those resources: single-use plastic. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, they’ve pledged to eliminate single- use plastic from all their hotels by this time next year—and to serve as a leader in the hospitality industry for a plastic free moment- turned-movement.
The campaign has been spearheaded by EDITION’s vice president of brand experiences, Ben Pundole, who says he’s been inspired by the recent anti-plastic activism in the UK, spurred in part by Sir David Attenborough’s widely-viewed Blue Planet series. “In the hospitably business, we don’t think about how many touch points there are, whether there’s a keycard, or a minibar, to-go food at the pool, or a toothbrush,” Pundole said, referring to places where the guest consumes something disposable. “And I realized I was in a position where I could affect some change.”

Pundole says EDITION’s four existing properties in London, New York, Miami, and Sanya, China have already seen radical reductions in plastic use; minibars, straws, toothbrushes, food containers, and coffee cup lids are just some of the swaps that have been made thus far. Pundole says there are a a few tricky hold-outs like keycards and bathroom amenities for which he’s still seeking—and intends to find—viable solutions. EDITION’s seven properties opening in the next 18 months, however, will be all plastic-free at launch.

While environmental campaigners have warned about the unsustainable nature of single-use plastic for years, Pundole says the current momentum around plastic feels different. Far from being seen as a frugal or inconvenient decision, he says ditching plastic is now seamlessly aligned with the new definition of luxury that EDITION’s guests expect. In other words, it’s less Nalgene water bottles and camping sporks and more S’well water bottles and bamboo tableware.

“Until very recently, this kind of initiative didn’t happen in the luxury space and it’s only just beginning,” Pundole said. “I think it really helps that luxury brands like Gucci have committed to being a lot more sustainable. There’s been a kind of conscious approach to next steps from companies that you never thought you’d see doing this.”

In addition to plastic reductions throughout its properties, EDITION is leading a campaign committee of influential hoteliers—which Pundole hopes will include the likes of Design Hotels, Soho House, and Chiltern Firehouse—to look at industry-wide solutions to the plastic problem. He says the hurdles are not guests—”guests are really behind this kind of thing”—but rather making a business case to financiers that “it’s the right decision even though it’s not cost neutral.”

If Pundole gets his way, the future of luxury hospitality will be plastic free.

Zero Waste in Hotels

Chinese hotel operator HNA Hospitality Group has achieved initial success with its new zero waste campaign, a partnership with Trenton, New Jersey- based TerraCycle, by recycling 1,323 pounds’ (600 kilograms’) worth of discarded toiletries from three company hotels in four months. TerraCycle is a leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle postconsumer materials.

Beijing-based HNA Hospitality Group says its zero waste campaign underscores the company’s “commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable development.” From July 24 to Nov. 30, 2017, HNA Hospitality collected used cotton swabs, shower caps, shaving kits, bath supplies, toothbrushes and other waste from the three Tangla hotels and recycled them into resalable products, “eliminating the pollution that would have come as a result of discarding them and purchasing replacement items,” the company says.

“We are extremely pleased with the results from this first phase of our zero-waste program,” Steven Song, president of HNA Hospitality, says. “Thanks to our partnership with TerraCycle and the diligence of the staff at our Tangla brand hotels, we were able to prevent a significant amount of waste from entering the environment. This program, along with our recent improvements in food and water safety at all of our hotels, is further evidence of our brand’s excellence and proof of our commitment to providing a comfortable, convenient and safe stay for all of our guests.”

The company notes that the zero waste campaign is its most recent CSR effort. Since 2013, the group has implemented a series of measures, such as increased recycling and adopting sustainable design and construction, to reduce the carbon footprint of its hotels, whose energy consumption rate has dropped considerably for four consecutive years, according to the company.

HNA says it plans to expand the zero waste program to more of its hotel in the coming months. “We will continue to explore new approaches and adopt new techniques to help lower costs and make our services more environmentally-friendly,” says Song. “We look forward to building wide awareness of our brand as one that is seen as a pioneer of sustainable hotels in China and around the world.”

Founded in 1997, HNA Hospitality Group is the hotel investment and management arm of HNA Tourism that is focused on creating a mid- to high-end global hotel network. HNA Hospitality Group says it is China’s largest private hotel group. The group operates or invests in about 8,600 hotels with more than 1.3 million rooms around the world.

Why Is It Important for Housekeeping to Clean Green?

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Housekeeping is at the frontline of any hotel business, both in terms of their contact with guests and their presentation of rooms for guest appreciation. Their role in creating a sustainable hotel is often overlooked, but it is critical. This news feature describes how staff can be trained to help boost a hotel’s environmental performance.

1. Eco-friendly products. Many of the products that are used in everyday tasks at a hotel can have a tremendous impact on the environment and people around them. For example, chemical-based fungicides can impact local insect populations including bees, and certain cleaning liquids can release toxic fumes or harm cleaning staff if improperly handled. This is a completely unnecessary risk when there are many alternative eco-friendly products - including disinfectants, glass and window cleaners, liquid soaps, degreasers, laundry bleach and many more - to choose from.

2. Clean towel policy so guests help cut down on washing. It has been standard practice for hotel guests to get clean towels daily. While this is undoubtedly a perk for guests, when thinking green there’s a lot of doubt over whether it’s really necessary. This shift in attitude has resulted in many hotels adopting a policy where only dirty towels which are left on the floor will be replaced by housekeeping. Other hotels may have their own rules regarding how or where you leave your dirty towels, such as a rack or a hook on the back of a door, but the end result is the same: less washing means less harm to the environment. It’s also a positive way to portray your hotel to residents when an information card is placed in the bathroom.

3. Organic washing powders. Many of us don’t think twice about the washing powders we use, often choosing our favorite brand or whatever best suits our pocket. This attitude carries through to the washing powders hotel managers use in their hotels, without taking into consideration two major factors: The washing powder you use may contain toxic chemicals that can negatively impact your health Excessive washing dumps these chemicals into the sewers, which in turn might end up in rivers or the ocean. Switching to more eco-friendly brands can reduce water consumption and lower your waste production - which is especially important as water scarcity becomes an increasing concern across the globe. Modern washing machines use less water and some include technology which allows them to use just a fraction of the water of a usual machine.

4. Products with less packaging. Anyone who has ordered an item online will be familiar with the huge box that arrives filled with packing material, only to dig through all of it looking for the tiny item that you actually ordered. While most people understand the reasoning behind this (we’d all be frustrated if our orders arrived damaged or broken), there’s no doubt that we also recognize how much of these packing products will just be thrown away, ending up in a garbage dump or landfill. As a hotel manager, you’ll be ordering items in bulk so make sure to choose companies that offer eco-friendly packaging or communicate with your favorite brand that there are steps they could take to more efficiently package their products.

5. Training course for staff to learn company values when it comes to cleaning green. Having eco-friendly products and processes in place are no good if staff aren’t making use of them. This is impacted by each staff member’s individual beliefs in regards to environmentally friendly practices, which is why it’s important for hotels to offer training courses for their staff. This will help hotels conserve water which might be wasted otherwise by unnecessary flushing of toilets or washing of towels and linen when the guest hasn’t specifically requested clean linen. This doesn’t only affect the hotel environment but will carry over into other aspects of the staff’s lives as well. There are a number of areas that hotels can focus on when it comes to training their staff, including water management and rationalization, energy efficiency, and waste recycling, and as they say, every little helps.

The Green Key criteria support all of the above-mentioned recommendations.