Hotels Go Even Greener with Eco-Friendly Strides
Major hospitality brands are sourcing sustainable seafood, reducing plastics, cleaning up local beaches and more.
Single-use plastics is a phrase that, up until recently, wasn’t part of society’s vernacular. However, with a wave of statistics and awareness events, and million-dollar-raising KickStarter campaigns against plastic straws, people are finally paying attention.
Single-use plastics are defined by the United Nations Environment Program as “waste products of a throwaway culture that treats plastic as a disposable material rather than a valuable resource,” which includes common products at restaurants and hotels like drinking bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, lids, straws and stirrers, and foam take-away containers.
Hotels are anticipating that guests care about how single-use plastics can affect the environment and making changes to their operations and food and beverage programs as a result.
“Guests not only care about sustainability, it’s something they look for in a hotel,” says Amanda Castaldo, assistant director of food and beverage at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. Amanda is part of the hotel’s Green Team, a committee dedicated to operating a fine urban luxury hotel in a manner that protects and conserves the natural resources and environment.
“Not every guest understood the importance of sustainability back when the hotel first started putting cards down about not changing sheets every day, but it’s common practice now and people are much more receptive to it,” Amanda says. “Guests look for recycling, they ask for it. And as employees, we’re looking for what’s next in that space and what we can do. We’d love to be as sustainable as possible before it becomes a trendy thing to do.”
Whether it’s a trend or an essential requirement, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is in line with most hotels in their treatment of single-use plastics in that they’re using paper and hay straws instead of plastic ones as well as glass bottles.
Marriott International announced an expanded step on the single-use plastics front to eliminate single-use plastic toiletry bottles across its 7,000 properties by 2020. This would reduce wasting 1.7 million pounds of plastic, an estimated 30% annually, according to Marriott. The brand previously committed to reducing carbon, food waste and water.
“One of the most appealing aspects of working for the culinary team of Marriott International is the enormous platform-wide reach we have to affect positive change in the world," says ICE alum Jennifer Etzkin O’Brien (Culinary, ‘09), senior manager of culinary development for luxury properties. "The company makes doing business responsibly one of its first priorities and I am honored to have a hand in this.”
Similarly, or perhaps on trend, will be hotels in the EU, where parliament has voted to ban single-use plastics like plates and cutlery by 2021. However, sustainability goes beyond getting rid of single-use plastics.
Marié Fukudome, director of environmental affairs for Hyatt, says the company has been working toward 2020 Environmental Sustainability Goals across its 850 properties.
“I drive our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water and waste at our hotels and increase responsible purchasing,” Marié says. “Along with our goals, our ‘Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.’ philosophy guides us to serve cuisine that is good for our people, our planet and our communities.”
Hyatt was able to achieve an industry-leading goal of sourcing 15% of its seafood from farms fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). The brand introduced the Beyond Burger at Hyatt Regency and Hyatt Place hotels in the U.S. while continuing to explore plant-forward menu options. The Grand Hyatt Melbourne even utilizes on-site composting technology to repurpose food waste into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner, which can be mixed with other soil to fertilize gardens and grounds.
Meliá Hotels International, a Spanish hotel company, was recently named the most sustainable hotel company in the world for its outstanding dedication to 360-degree eco-conscious practices. The organization works environmental commitments into supply chain management, starting with concepts and design. This means impact on the environment is considered in the development of everything from the foundation of a hotel to the lighting. Water is filtered through a treatment plant so it can be reused to irrigate gardens and golf courses at various properties, and the company implements employee training programs like one coordinated with the Dominican Republic Institute of Environmental Law at the Paradisus Palma Real in Playa Bávaro.
As hotels follow suit, properties will continue to get creative with eco-friendly hospitality solutions.
Learn more about essential trends and advancements in the industry in ICE’s Hospitality & Hotel Management program.