Five easy steps to make your hospitality business more sustainable

How to make your hospitality business more sustainable

Jon Proctor, chief executive at Green Tourism, discusses how hospitality businesses can make simple but effective steps to become more sustainable.

Embarking on a sustainable approach in any hospitality business can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Being a sustainable business is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but increasingly an essential brand value for the hospitality industry - reduced energy costs, improved customer proposition and playing a part in protecting the planet all create a compelling case for an environmentally friendly approach to business. Here are five simple things that can put you on the path to being more sustainable.

1 Set a baseline
The first step towards becoming a more sustainable business is awareness. Before you embark on becoming more sustainable it is essential to establish where your business already is in terms of resource efficiency (electricity, gas and water) and waste management. Then you can start to acknowledge the areas of your business that could be ‘greener’ and prioritise and identify the issues that need to be tackled first.

2 Concentrate on your kitchen
The kitchen is one of the biggest draws on resources. Yet it also provides the greatest opportunity to implement green standards that can have a positive impact on your business, your team, your customers... and your bills.

3 Consider portion sizes
Cutting food waste from your kitchen can come down to careful planning when it comes to ordering, adding a daily specials menu to utilise leftovers or cutting portion sizes. In the UK alone, the amount of food wasted each year is the equivalent of 1.3 billion meals, with 34% of this coming from excess food on consumer plates - this is the equivalent of £3bn per year by 2016 (WRAP 2013). Using food that would otherwise be thrown in the bin is much more cost effective than sending waste to landfill, and it gives your staff a great opportunity to be creative with new menus.

3. Invest in oil recovery
Kitchen waste doesn’t just come in the form of prep and plate waste – fats, oils and grease are a big waste product from every hospitality business in the country. Fats, oils and greases cause an estimated 70% of blockages in the UK and these blockages can cost up to £80m per year to repair (source Water UK). In 2015, Thames Water coughed up £400,000 in damages and repairs to remove a 40 metre long, 10 tonne ‘fatberg’ from a west London sewer. If your establishment is found responsible you can be liable for the treatment and clean up costs – an expense no business should need to suffer. Luckily for you, there are several ways to reduce the amount of this unavoidable by-product that goes into our sewers. We encourage businesses to install and maintain effective grease traps, recover or recycle cooking oil to avoid excessive waste and use eco-friendly systems to deal with any grease blockages and build-ups.

4. Shout about locality
Hiring local staff, sourcing local ingredients and working with local suppliers all has a huge effect on your carbon footprint and can create a unique selling proposition. At Green Tourism we recommend you showcase the best of your region and shout about it to your customers. You can do this in a number of ways, all of which are really simple - such as name checking the local farm from which your meat comes from. Or you can include a map to indicate where all your key ingredients have come from and highlight how many food miles were travelled. Not only does this inform your customer, it also offers a brilliant talking point for guests and staff.

5 Train staff to be sustainable ambassadors
Well-informed staff are key when it comes to communicating sustainability. Train your staff on all things to do with the menu – what the specials are, what the origin of the ingredients are and which are sustainably sourced. This will help customers make informed menu decisions.

Green Tourism is the market leading sustainable tourism certification programme in the UK