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Sustainable Service – Building Sustainability Into Hospitality

JodyP 7 February 2020
Sustainable Service – Building Sustainability Into Hospitality

By Giles Fuchs, owner of the Burgh Island Hotel

To be able to travel is a privilege that comes with great responsibility. For guests, this may mean finding carbon friendly ways to travel, opting for a staycation or staying in eco-hotels. For the hospitality industry, this means carefully considering the impact our waste has on the planet, and finding innovative solutions that can minimise it.

Indeed, this is something which needs to be addressed imminently. According to the most recent stats, in the UK alone, over 1 million tonnes of food is wasted at hospitality outlets per year, the equivalent to 1.3 billion meals. (1) Meanwhile, 2.26 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste was reported in 2017, with the service sector being the largest single contributor, accounting for 53% of all waste. (2)

Building sustainability into the day-to-day management of a hotel, to carefully consider the preservation of natural lands and responsible sourcing, all the while retaining a sense of identity is indeed a challenge. At Burgh Island, we are constantly finding new ways to meet all of these requirements that can also meet the needs of the business. As we look to the future, it is exciting to see the industry begin to share their new initiatives so that we can learn and build on our collective experiences to deliver high quality service that makes sustainability a priority.

Environmental practice

On an island like Burgh, preserving the natural landscape is so important. Where the land meets the sea, we have the responsibility to protect and preserve what makes us unique. This means carefully considering pollutants that can damage the surrounding lands. From reducing the use of environmentally damaging products through to the disposal of our waste and on-island eco-initiatives, we do our best to protect the landmark natural beauty of Devon.

Burgh Island Solar Panels

Putting goals into action, we are continuously reviewing our waste. Reducing single-use plastic remains high on the social agenda, and is now expected a standard across all industries. Introducing simple initiatives like glass water bottles and paper straws are now considered a requirement at any establishment across the country. Beyond this, it is important to consider toiletries, as hotels in the UK throw away 200m miniatures each year. (3) To combat this, hotels are increasingly searching for new ways to provide their guests high quality products that are also sustainable. This year, our toiletry partner Noble Isle will be rolling out plastic free products, made with formulas designed to have minimal impact on the environment. (4)

Implementing sustainable initiatives that benefit guests is key, but it’s not only what they see that is changing. The three Rs: reducing, reusing and recycling waste is a key way for hotel’s to minimise their impact on the environment. At Burgh Island, we are lucky to be at the mercy of the elements, and have introduced a solar panel array, and are even exploring how we can make the most of the tidal forces that makes Burgh an island.

Sustainable sourcing

Sustainable hospitality isn’t just about considering environmental impact. Operating as a sustainable business also means considering the impact of operations on the local area. For example, by creating partnerships with suppliers in the local area, a hotel can prioritise fresh local produce while minimising the transportation. At Burgh, we source 80% of our produce from local farms and suppliers, all within a 30 mile radius.

Indeed, this is a luxury that we are afforded at Burgh, with countryside and farmland on our doorstop. For those who aren’t quite as ideally situated, even the smallest change can have a positive impact on the local economy. For example, those hotels and restaurants which prioritise serving at least five local ingredients on their menu or recruiting from the local area can create better relationships with the local community and improve the hotel’s environmental and social impact at the same time.

Preserving identity

Of course, eco-friendly initiatives can be built into a hotel’s character. But for historical, boutique or themed brands, committing to sustainability doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the unique identity of the hotel. There are now a variety of discreet products and eco-friendly initiatives that don’t have to sacrifice the way a hotel looks and feels. For example, at Burgh Island, where authenticity is paramount, we had the original Crittal windows fitted with double glazing, to preserve the building’s heat during the winter months and retain an essential art-deco feature.

Responsible operations

Ensuring the day-to-day functions of the hotel are as sustainable as possible means training staff to be aware of the impact of their daily tasks, from administrative duty, through to cleaning products, it is the small changes that have the biggest overall impact.

It’s not just about the day-to-day, however. It’s also about how the industry functions. Hotels can look to work with carbon trusts, local environmental groups and the wider industry to interrogate their impact on the environment, learning new practices and sharing their own experiences to support the industry as it continues to build sustainable practices into its strategy and operations. For example, from simply prioritising Fair Trade products through to joining initiatives like Clean Conscience, (5) or the Green Apple Organisation, every hotelier can play their part.

As we look ahead to the green economy, it is exciting to see what innovations and initiatives come next. With pressure from consumers, governments and now the industry itself, the world of hospitality is changing for the better and it is a privilege to be part of it.

1) wrap.org.uk/food-drink/business-food-waste/hospitality-food-service
2) file:///C:/Users/Seonaid/Downloads/CBP-8515%20(1).pdf
3) theguardian.com/environment/shortcuts/2019/jul/30/hotels-are-finally-banning-mini-plastic-toiletries-here-are-the-best-alternatives
4) nobleisle.com/luxury-hotel-amenities

5) Noble Isle (toiletries) is a partner