As the world becomes increasingly aware of the impact of human activity on the environment, businesses are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and become more sustainable. One of the most effective ways to do this is by implementing zero-waste practices. However, balancing profitability with sustainability can be a challenge, and many businesses struggle to make zero-waste work for them.
The key to making zero-waste work is to start small. Instead of trying to overhaul your entire hotel or restaurant all at once, start with changes like switching to reusable coffee cups and eliminating single-use plastics. Small adjustments like these can add up over time and have a significant impact.
Get buy-in from employees
To make zero-waste work, it’s essential to have the entire team on board. Make sure they understand the importance of reducing waste and are willing to make changes. Making it part of their induction, encouraging them at every opportunity to share ideas and suggestions on how your business can become more sustainable. When the whole team is engaged, involved and invested in the process, it is much easier to implement and maintain the right practices.
Packaging is a significant source of waste for many businesses, especially takeaway outlets, but elsewhere as well. Look for ways to reduce the amount of packaging, such as switching to biodegradable materials or offering refills. Consider partnering with suppliers who share the same commitment to sustainability and can provide eco-friendly packaging options, such as compostable food packaging.
Embrace recycling and composting
Recycling and composting are essential components of zero-waste practices. Make sure your business has a recycling program in place and provide clear guidelines of what can and cannot be recycled. Consider composting food waste and other organic materials, which can be used to enrich soil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Reduce energy consumption
A win-win, this is good for the environment and can also save your business money. Look for ways to reduce energy usage, such as turning off lights and electronics when they’re not in use and investing in energy-efficient equipment. Consider installing solar panels or other renewable energy sources, especially for greenfield projects.
Partner with sustainable suppliers
Look for partners who share your commitment to sustainability. Consider factors like their environmental impact, labor practices and ethical sourcing. Start as you mean to go on, in the development stage, by partnering with sustainable suppliers who can help reduce your business’s overall environmental footprint and contribute to a more sustainable supply chain.
Educate your customers
Finally, educate your customers about your zero-waste practices and how they can support sustainability. Consider using social media and other marketing channels to share information as well as the positive impact coming from your efforts, which will also encourage clients to make sustainable choices. By raising awareness and engaging with your customers, you can build a loyal following that values sustainability and supports your business’s efforts. For example, consider offering discounts or other benefits to customers who support the same thinking, by encouraging them to bring their own cups or containers, thereby promoting the use of reusable water bottles and coffee cups.
A principled approach
Balancing profitability with sustainability is not always easy, but it is essential for businesses that want to thrive in the long term. When done well, adopting this approach will help to deliver not only a return on investment but also a stronger brand equity through shared values and a clear stance on environment, social and governance (ESG) principles.
hotelier and co-founder of TroKadero Management