RePurpose: The Triple Bottom Line Approach to Waste Reduction

By Jennifer Silberman Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Hilton Worldwide | May 11, 2014

The World Bank estimates that global urban populations create 1.6 billion tons of solid waste per year, and more than half of that ends up in landfills. A mere fraction is composted or recycled. In the United States, the hospitality industry alone produces 1.9 billion pounds of waste annually. According the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), nearly 30 percent of all food produced in a year is thrown away, while more than 888 million struggle with hunger. That's 1.3 billion tons of uneaten food. And on a daily basis, 2.6 million bars of soap are discarded by the hotel industry in the United States alone according to the Global Soap Project.

It's clear from these statistics that waste output is one of the greatest sustainability issues our industry faces. For the hospitality industry, the serious and long-term consequences of improper waste management are as far-reaching as the millions of guests we connect with around the world. Uncollected solid waste hurts our planet well beyond the eyesore, leading to environmental, health and economic development challenges around the world. Further, waste negatively impacts the sustainability of the communities where our hotels are located.

We have a responsibility to the communities we serve through our industry, to strive to maximize operational efficiencies to reduce waste output, including materials such as food, soap, mattresses, furniture and other hard goods.

As a hospitality company, we recognize that we are at great risk of producing enormous amounts of waste. Our business model demands high product turnover. But at Hilton Worldwide, we see this challenge as an opportunity. Our attention to waste reduction stems from our pledge to operate at maximum efficiency to reduce our impact on the environment and preserve our planet for future generations.

In 2009, we made a commitment to reduce waste by 20% in five years. Properties around the world contribute to this goal and develop local initiatives reflective of their capacity and local operating environment. In 2011, we exceeded our waste reduction goal, two years ahead of schedule but we still see more opportunity to improve.

Measurement and Continuous Improvement

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.