Starting Sustainability At Procurement

Hotel Business –
Serving the hotel industry across the UK

They say the customer is always right but as consumers become
increasingly aware of social and environmental issues that
influence their buying habits, how is this impacting the
hospitality industry?

Here, procurement director at Valor Hospitality Europe, Nick
Moore who is responsible for purchasing decisions across 17 hotels,
discusses why waste is firmly top of Valor’s agenda.

A changing world, a change in hospitality

In today’s world, consumers are growing increasingly aware of
how what they buy and where they buy it from can directly affect
the environment, not just in their local areas but much further
away from home too. Ethics are becoming increasingly influential on
consumer behaviour and we’ve seen the impact of that in the
hospitality industry. Looking for sustainable, cost effective
products has always been a part of my job but it’s now an even
bigger priority for us.

Take plastic straws for example, one of the industry’s biggest
hot topics of the year. Although some people may have already been
aware of the serious issue of plastic pollution in oceans across
the world, sometimes it takes a visual display of a problem to
shock the world into making a change. Within 36 hours of the
BBC’s Blue Planet programme airing earlier this year, with its
harrowing images of sea life tangled in plastic, we’d removed
plastic straws from each of our 17 hotels across the U.K. It’s
not always easy to make a change that quickly, but it was a no
brainer as we knew it was an issue we couldn’t ignore.

But it’s not just the call to reduce plastic usage that’s
impacting the hospitality sector, for a few years now there has
been mounting interest in where food and drinks are sourced too.
Once the reserve of the more expensive and exclusive restaurants,
the provenance and sustainability of what we eat and drink has
extended to the high street and customers expect higher quality and
ethically sourced produce. The challenge for many is getting the
balance right between sustainability and being cost effective,
something that we’re constantly reviewing.

On a mission to recycle

As procurement director at Valor Hospitality Europe, I’m
responsible for overseeing how we source pretty much everything,
from TV screens and toiletries, to who trains our chefs. With a say
in the choice of so many products across our hospitality operation,
our procurement team is the perfect place to start a search for
sustainability, and we’re currently on a mission to reduce
waste.

Aside from getting rid of every single plastic straw in our
hotels, we are also reviewing our use of paper. From coffee cups to
toilet paper, there is a surprising amount of paper products in our
sector, and we need to ensure that this is not only sourced
responsibly but can be recycled too. We’re also exploring how we
can drive down single-use products, such as plastic water bottles
and paper coffee cups, and encourage the use of reusable
alternatives.

But if we want to contribute to greater change, we need to go
further than just coffee cups, water bottles and plastic straws.
Our procurement team is looking at ways in which we can recycle
every single one of the products used in our hotels at the end of
its current life cycle. Right now, we’re working on the
possibility of recycling around 48 products we procure.

As well as the environmental impact of our products, it’s also
about being sustainable as a business too. In order to save time
and money, procurement teams need to look at the key details of
each and every item we use, and their impact on our wider business.
For example, we’d been using a toilet paper in a few of our
hotels that was causing drains to block repeatedly. Having
engineers coming out time and again to sort the problem was a
costly exercise but a simple change of paper has had a big impact
and solved the issue.

Extending our responsibility

By sourcing the majority of products that are used in our hotels
and consumed by our guests, we of course have a pivotal role to
play in our corporate responsibility for sustainability and waste.
But as a business, we can also extend this responsibility far
beyond our internal team.

Often, a great deal of our waste comes from our suppliers.
Excess packaging is a real bugbear of mine and part of our product
review into waste has seen us consider alternative suppliers if
they do not do something about the issue. By letting suppliers know
that this is the case, we can hope to drive further change and
encourage a shared vision with external companies when it comes to
sustainability, who may then make a change in order to retain
business.

As with our customers, our environmental impact has become
increasingly important to the people that work for Valor, and that
is something we want to continue and encourage. We welcome
suggestions from our staff on how we can limit our impact on the
environment, whatever level or department.

For Valor, our teams and the all-important customer, it’s no
longer about the quick and easy. Of course, recyclable goods may
sometimes be more expensive, but procurement has the opportunity to
respond to this customer driven movement and lead the charge in
ethical product sourcing. We’re committed to a morally better way
of doing business.    

Hotel Business –
Serving the hotel industry across the UK

Source: FS – All-Hotels-Blogs
Starting Sustainability At Procurement