The world’s largest hotel group, Accor, is looking to cut its massive water footprint by getting its corporate customers to eat more vegetarian meals and by reducing the number of buffets at its business conventions.
The global hotelier, which owns brands such as Etap
, has identified meat
as two of the biggest sources of water consumption
in the food
it serves and says it is targeting its business clients to help tackle the problem.
revealed in February
and beverage was the main source of water consumption for the hotel chain, which owns over 4,000 sites. It accounts for a 86 per cent of the 544,000,000 cubic metres of water the group gets through a year, compared to just 11 per cent consumed by its sites. In April, the company unveiled its latest sustainability plan, Planet 21
, in which it pledged to reduce its water consumption by 15 per cent by 2015.
"Right now, we have set up a working group with our chefs and food and beverage managers to see how we are going to limit the footprint on the environment from food," Sophie Flak, Accor’s Academies and Sustainable Development manager, told GreenWise.
"We have a very large convention business and if we implement one vegetarian proposition for a three-day convention we can have a very significant impact on reducing carbon and water."
Flak added that the hotelier was also looking to reduce the number of buffets it supplied at corporate events because they lead to more meat being served and created more waste
"If you buy one kilo of beef it takes more than 15,000 litres of water," she said. "Buffet is a mix of food which makes it more difficult to avoid meat and there is going to be more waste than when you serve by plate."
The approach from Accor will be not to put pressure on hotels to cut buffets at conferences but rather to encourage them to offer table-served meals that have a lower impact, a spokesperson added.
Food supply chain
Back in February, Accor said it was going to tackle the impact of food on its water consumption problem by setting up new channels with suppliers from "farm to table".
Flak said the company was starting to address the issue, but that there was still a long way to go.
"In some countries we are working on short distance supply chains and in the long-term we plan to work with suppliers to move from clinical to more organic and better managed food growing. But when you want a farmer to go organic you have to commit to the long-term. We are talking on average a seven year long process."
Elsewhere, Flak said Accor had got 50 per cent of its suppliers to sign up to the hotel group’s sustainable purchasing
charter, Charter 21, and was also working with Ecovadis, a collaborative platform allowing companies to assess the environmental and social performance of its suppliers on a global basis.
But Flak said the first job was to reduce the company’s food water footprint internally and that engaging its corporate clients was key to addressing the problem because of the economies of scale.
"When you work in convention business, you speak to one or two persons [about the menu] and you are dealing with 300 to 800 meals. It makes it much easier [than targeting restaurant clients]," she said.
As part of its Planet 21 sustainability plan, Accor last month unveiled its Carbon Optimizer, a carbon calculator to allow meeting and seminar organisers to cut their events’ carbon footprint. The hotel group said the calculator was unique because as well as measuring direct emissions, it also measures indirect emissions associated with organising events, including food.
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