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 April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.