The landscape of the hospitality industry is undergoing a transformative shift. Sustainability is becoming a significant factor when choosing where to stay and modern guests are increasingly seeking eco-conscious accommodations. According to a report, 61% of travellers want to travel in a more sustainable way and collectively as a society, we are taking greater interest in business’ environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG).

Combined with growing pressures to reach hospitality’s goal of net zero by 2040, businesses should now consider putting sustainability at the heart of everything they do. Yet, implementing eco-friendly changes in an industry that is heavily reliant on energy, water and single-use plastic can be challenging. In the race to slow down and reduce the impacts of climate change, drastic changes must be made soon. The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance has calculated in its Global Hotel Decarbonisation Report that the industry needs to reduce carbon emissions per room by at least 66 per cent by 2030, and 90 per cent by 2050, based on 2010 levels.

Here are some of the ways hospitality businesses can implement sustainable practices to future-proof their business, while continuing to uphold quality service for guests.

Embracing technology

Operating 24/7, 7 days a week – hotels require lighting, thermostats, and other electrical systems to be functioning at all times, using a significant amount of energy. Evolving technology, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) will seek to revolutionise sustainability practices across the industry. For example, these systems can automatically adapt temperature and lighting according to occupancy, leading to decreased energy consumption and cost savings. In addition, AI has the capability to predict energy demand patterns, empowering hotels to operate with greater efficiency.

Requiring a great amount of power each day means hotels should look to invest in and adopt renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines, to generate clean and sustainable energy.

Reducing single-use plastic

According to UNESCO, 8-10 million tonnes of plastic are released into the sea every year. Despite this, the hospitality industry uses a high quantity of single-use plastic. Whilst some hospitality businesses such as hotels are replacing single-use plastics with sustainable alternatives, they can still be found in guests’ rooms, public spaces, and the back of the house. This includes items such as plastic bottles, disposable coffee cups, toiletry bottles, and packaging, like slipper wraps, contributing to waste, pollution, and global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Quick and simple changes can be made to reduce the amount of waste created. For example, single-use plastic toiletries can be replaced with refillable dispensers for shampoo, conditioner, and soap. When it comes to food and beverage services, more sustainable options such as bamboo or paper can be used to replace plastic straws, stirrers, and cutlery.

Not only do these changes promote a more sustainable approach, but they are also more cost-effective, reducing the need to buy single-use items in bulk.

Conserving water and other resources

In hotel laundry rooms, processing multiple loads of laundry each day requires a significant amount of energy, water, and detergent. According to a report by the International Resource Panel (IRP), the demand for water will exceed supply by 40 percent in 2030 under current trends. As a result, it is crucial that hotel managers also consider the type of equipment they are using to reduce any unnecessary water consumption. For instance, commercial laundry machines are now designed with sustainability in mind. Drum design and sensors can adjust the water volume and detergent used based on the load weight, ensuring that no more water, energy, and detergent is used than necessary. This supports businesses in conserving resources and reducing costs. At Miele Professional, our laundry machines have been built with sustainability in mind, supporting businesses in reducing their environmental footprint and overhead costs.

Supporting a greener future

With trends and expectations continuing to evolve, hotels that implement sustainability initiatives will maintain a unique and competitive edge against their competitors in a rapidly changing market. Prominent hotel brands, like Hilton, have already taken notice. The brand has pledged to reduce its waste by over 50% by 2030 and became the first major hotel company to set science-based carbon targets in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement, approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Failing to consider your ESG practices poses a threat to your business’s brand perception and reputation, ultimately impacting your bottom line.

By Sam Holden, Business Account Manager at Miele Professional