Hotels and Plastics: Threat Or Savior?

By Jan Peter Bergkvist Owner, SleepwellAB | May 27, 2018

Plastic is a great material and is, as we all know, used in billions of different applications, many of which are linked to the hotel sector. However, only 14 percent of all plastic packaging is collected for recycling after use, and vast quantities of the rest escape into the environment.

Almost all kinds of plastic degrade slowly. This tells us that we shall avoid it as packaging for foodstuffs and frequently used products such as bags and straws.

During the last decade, it has become obvious that far too much plastic ends up in the natural environment and remains there as litter. The role of plastics in society has increasingly become one of the major environmental sustainability challenges alongside climate, water-and biodiversity challenges, to name a few.

The problem with visible litter has been obvious to us for decades, especially in low-income countries with poor waste handling procedures. But a more recently acknowledged catastrophe is the molecular waste that occurs when plastics in our oceans are partly degraded and consumed by fish and other sea creatures. Not only can this result in starvation, (as fish stomachs become full but without the intake of nutrients); but also cause hormonal disorders as degraded and micro-plastics have the capacity to carry toxic chemical compounds.

From a climate perspective, we know that a vast majority of all plastic today is made from crude oil, and when incinerated adds to climate change through the fossil CO2 emissions.

The perception of plastics has changed rapidly among politicians and consumers. China has recently stopped the import of plastic waste from Europe; and even more importantly, retailers' bans of plastic bags in many countries reflect growing consumer concern. This, together with increasing unease about molecular waste from sources such as synthetic fibers in clothes or plastic football turfs, (that eventually ends up in our seas and oceans), suggests that we are seeing a rapid change in our attitudes to plastic.

Swedish authorities promote tap water as the obvious better choice with the slogan: Clean Water - No transport - No waste!
Child observing an ecological disaster on a beach
Know where your plastic waste ends up? It takes thousands of years for plastic to biodegrade...
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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.