Talking Points

Talking Point: Why is it important for housekeeping to clean green?

Housekeeping is at the frontline of any hotel business, both in terms of their contact with guests and their presentation of rooms for guest appreciation. Their role in creating a sustainable hotel is often overlooked, but it is critical. This news feature describes how staff can be trained to help boost a hotel’s environmental performance.


1. Eco-friendly products

Many of the products that are used in everyday tasks at a hotel can have a tremendous impact on the environment and people around them. For example, chemical-based fungicides can impact local insect populations including bees, and certain cleaning liquids can release toxic fumes or harm cleaning staff if improperly handled. This is a completely unnecessary risk when there are many alternative eco-friendly products - including disinfectants, glass and window cleaners, liquid soaps, degreasers, laundry bleach and many more - to choose from.

2. Clean towel policy so guests help cut down on washing

 It has been standard practice for hotel guests to get clean towels daily. While this is undoubtedly a perk for guests, when thinking green there’s a lot of doubt over whether it’s really necessary. This shift in attitude has resulted in many hotels adopting a policy where only dirty towels which are left on the floor will be replaced by housekeeping. Other hotels may have their own rules regarding how or where you leave your dirty towels, such as a rack or a hook on the back of a door, but the end result is the same: less washing means less harm to the environment.

It’s also a positive way to portray your hotel to residents when an information card is placed in the bathroom.

3. Organic washing powders

 Many of us don’t think twice about the washing powders we use, often choosing our favourite brand or whatever best suits our pocket. This attitude carries through to the washing powders hotel managers use in their hotels, without taking into consideration two major factors:

The washing powder you use may contain toxic chemicals that can negatively impact your health

Excessive washing dumps these chemicals into the sewers, which in turn might end up in rivers or the ocean

Switching to more eco-friendly brands can reduce water consumption and lower your waste production - which is especially important as water scarcity becomes an increasing concern across the globe. Modern washing machines use less water and some include technology which allows them to use just a fraction of the water of a usual machine.

4. Products with less packaging

Anyone who has ordered an item online will be familiar with the huge box that arrives filled with packing material, only to dig through all of it looking for the tiny item that you actually ordered. While most people understand the reasoning behind this (we’d all be frustrated if our orders arrived damaged or broken), there’s no doubt that we also recognise how much of these packing products will just be thrown away, ending up in a garbage dump or landfill.

As a hotel manager, you’ll be ordering items in bulk so make sure to choose companies that offer eco-friendly packaging or communicate with your favourite brand that there are steps they could take to more efficiently package their products.

5. Training course for staff to learn company values when it comes to cleaning green

Having eco-friendly products and processes in place are no good if staff aren’t making use of them. This is impacted by each staff member’s individual beliefs in regards to environmentally friendly practices, which is why it’s important for hotels to offer training courses for their staff. This will help hotels conserve water which might be wasted otherwise by unnecessary flushing of toilets or washing of towels and linen when the guest hasn’t specifically requested clean linen.

This doesn’t only affect the hotel environment but will carry over into other aspects of the staff’s lives as well. There are a number of areas that hotels can focus on when it comes to training their staff, including water management and rationalisation, energy efficiency, and waste recycling, and as they say, every little helps.

The Green Key criteria support all of the above-mentioned recommendations. 

Source: Green Hotelier

Green Key at the launch of the Tourism 2030 Portal at the ITB 2018

As every year in March, the Berlin Messe hosted the international tourism fair ITB last week. Green Key was there to attend the launch of the Tourism 2030 Sustainable and Responsible Tourism Portal.

Herbert Hamele talking about 25 years of ECOTRANS

Herbert Hamele talking about 25 years of ECOTRANS

In 2018 the ECOTRANS Network for Sustainable Tourism Development is celebrating 25 years of European and global-level networking, policy-making and  project implementation to promote responsible and sustainable tourism. ECOTRANS invited Green Key to join their celebrations and the launch of their new portal at the ITB. 

The Tourism 2030 Portal is an independent website which brings together the global community of people and organisations working in sustainable tourism. Among other issues, it informs about certifications, standards and awards in sustainable tourism to help businesses and travellers to learn about and compare them. Green Key has been working with ECOTRANS for many years, especially in promoting awarded establishments on online travel agency platforms. Furthermore, Green Key participates in the TRIANGLE project, which is an European wide collaborative online system for Higher Education Institutes to offer quality tourism sustainability training. 

In addition to the launch of the Tourism 2030 Portal, several members of ECOTRANS discussed the implementation of sustainable tourism to meet the SDGs in 2030 and the Paris Agreement targets. With only three policy cycles left to achieve the Global Goals, the panelists pondered whether the SDGs will remain a "fairytale" or if there will be a "fairy tale ending". 

CSR increases employees’ loyalty and effectiveness

Different studies suggest that CSR programmes have a positive effect on the satisfaction and loyalty of staff.

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND—Many of the world’s corporations engage in charitable projects. Some do so because they sincerely want to improve the world, but others create programs due to the expectations of customers, owners, and other stakeholders. A pair of studies from Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne point to a key group that pays careful attention to corporate social responsibility: employees. The studies, by EHL Professor Steffen Raub—together with Stephan Blunschi of the Swiss retailer MIGROS in one case—investigate the mechanism by which CSR increases employees’ loyalty and effectiveness.

In recent years CSR has become a focus of many businesses’ corporate strategy. For example, a growing number of companies are seeking certification for their social and environmental performance by the nonprofit B Lab (more than 2,100 firms in 50 countries, including 20 in Switzerland such as Montagne Alternative, an alpine lodge; Impact Hub Geneva, a business incubator; and NOW Transforming Hospitality, a sustainable travel foundation). One of the reasons for seeking such certification is to overcome skepticism about a firm’s corporate philanthropy, given that many stakeholders, including employees, sense that these initiatives may be more about increasing brand image than generating actual social impact.

Raub and Blunschi found that hospitality organizations which engage in CSR activities, “can reap substantial benefits in terms of improved job attitudes and greater engagement in discretionary work behaviors.” Examining CSR in a U.K. hotel chain, they sought to answer this question: Exactly how does corporate social responsibility enhance employees’ performance?

Job Satisfaction Improved

One essential element that supports excellent employee performance is the concept of task significance, which is, in turn supported by employees’ perception that a company is doing good in the world. When Raub and Blunschi surveyed 211 employees in four hotels operated by the U.K. hotel chain, they found that favorable perceptions of task significance contributed to employees’ job performance by boosting helping behavior, increasing helpful suggestions and initiative, and reducing the emotional exhaustion that often leads to voluntary turnover. Job satisfaction also improved, again as employees perceived that the company’s charitable efforts meant that they considered their jobs to be more significant.

In a subsequent study, which involved a pharmaceutical distributor in Thailand and a laboratory study of U.S. business students, Raub extended the initial investigation to gauge the value of employees themselves participating in charitable efforts, in addition to sharing information about corporate largesse.

Looking at employees’ involvement in charitable efforts sponsored by the pharmaceutical company, Raub found a connection between employees’ participation and their job satisfaction, as well as their attitude toward their employer. However, there is a mediating factor, namely, the employees must believe that the firm’s charitable intentions are sincere and its motives are benevolent. In both the field study in Thailand and in the laboratory study in the U.S. business school, Raub reports consistent evidence of higher attitudinal and behavioral commitment to companies that involve employees in philanthropic efforts.

Employee Involvement is Important

One other benefit of employee involvement in corporate philanthropy is that outsiders may also be favorably influenced in their attitude regarding a company. In this way, Raub finds that “employee involvement in philanthropy, over and above information about the philanthropic activity itself, is sufficient to cause higher attitudinal commitment, behavioral commitment, and benevolent attributions.”

Two factors limit this favorable response to corporate philanthropy. The first is employees’ inferences about the company’s intentions together with their own identity as organizational members in connection with the CSR efforts. The second is that participation must be voluntary.

The result of these efforts, however, are beneficial to the company and society generally. Raub concludes that employee involvement leads individuals to make more discretionary contributions to companies, partly in the form of spreading goodwill about the company. This goodwill can extend to potential employees.

In summary, both studies demonstrate the value of CSR programs for a firm, regarding stakeholders both inside and outside a firm—provided the CSR efforts are genuine.

Dr. Steffen Raub is a professor of organizational behavior at Ecole hôteliere de Lausanne (EHL).

This article appeared on Green Lodging News. To subscribe to the Green Lodging News e-newsletter, go to

The local products that make your restaurant a really different experience

Do you use the local food as a marketing tool to promote your restaurant? Taking advantage of regional produce and products will add to a visitor’s experience and will place your restaurant as a ‘must visit’ in your region. For visitors to your area, sampling local produce is as much a part of the visitors' experience as seeing the sights.


Diners’ expectations have shifted

In the past, local and visiting diners would search out exotic ingredients and meals. Local products were for home, not dining out, and certainly not a priority. Restaurants made names for themselves on providing diners with meals full of imported ingredients. A couple of big shifts have reversed this, with people now placing a higher value on local products.

One of these shifts is an increased understanding of the environmental impacts of producing food. After years of excessive monocultures, breeds inherently belonging to a given ecosystem have been gradually reintroduced. Protecting biodiversity has become a well-known necessity which can be noticed with the reappearance of some ‘forgotten’ varieties which used to be grown in the area. As a result, more local specialities can be found in the menus, which is also advantageous for the local economy.

Another shift is because of the ease of travel. In the past, there was very little chance of many people travelling to the source of exotic ingredients, so the restaurant industry was responsible for introducing new flavours and cooking styles to local customers. Now, many people would prefer to have meals based on typical local ingredients of the area they visit.

What local products can you offer your guests?

What is the focus in your local area? Does it form part of your restaurant experience? This depends on your region. Some areas have obvious links to produce and any restaurant would be ill-advised to ignore them. A prime example is Tuscany – could you imagine going to a restaurant in Tuscany and having Australian wine on the menu?

There are many regions which have signature products and have built their tourism on promoting these products. But there are also many areas which do not have a defining food industry. Where do you start then, to promote local produce to your restaurant guests?

An easy place to start is to remove imported bottled water from your menu, instead offering local spring, filtered or tap water.

Another great start is to look at your menu. Do you have seasonal menus with local products? Do you clearly display the regional certifications and logos guaranteeing that the product has been grown and harvested in harmony with nature?

Help is available

There are a number of organisations in Europe that will help restaurant owners by putting them in touch with local producers. If you are in the UK, Sustainweb can help. Across Europe, Slow Food can help with local information. Many areas also have regional food groups, which can be great sources of information and assistance.

However, remember that sometimes local does not mean eco-friendly. If the product has to be grown in heavily heated greenhouses, it may mean that it does more harm than actually transporting it from its original place! So do not go extreme in sourcing all your menu with local products. Keeping some imported goods on your menu because you know they are more environmentally friendly is actually a sign of environmental maturity.

It is good to add information to your menu about your providers and showcase the labels and certifications your food has been awarded. It is a way of educating your diners about the environmental impacts of food and promote the local products which are truly beneficial for your region. It is a sign you support local farmers and producers and care for the environment.

Shifting to local products in your restaurant can have so many benefits…linking farmers with diners in the fewest possible steps, promoting local strengths and promoting your restaurant as an environmental leader and valued contributor to the success of your region.

Spread the news

Educating your staff on local products, and any stories surrounding the source of the products they can share will engage your diners with the movement of food from farm to plate. Inform them that not only ‘food miles’ matter (i.e. the distance the food is transported) but the conditions in which the food is produced. They should feel proud of supporting agricultural practices that preserve biodiversity and minimise emissions to water and air, as well as respecting the seasons of each type of product. And when these can be coupled with local production, even better.



Hotels can adopt seafood supply chain Code of Practice to protect human rights

A new Code of Practice which includes labour rights issues at sea will help hotels check their seafood supply chains.

Protect human rights in the seafood supply chain

Human Rights at Sea has announced its close involvement in the Steering Group for the development of the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 1550:2017, which concerns a new voluntary Code of Practice for due diligence and fair working practices in the fisheries sector. 

The document's full title is PAS 1550:2017 Exercising due diligence in establishing the legal origin of seafood products and marine ingredients - importing and processing - Code of Practice.

Human Rights at Sea - a charitable organisation - worked alongside 15 other stakeholders including the British Retail Consortium (BRC), ClientEarth, Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), FishWise, Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Lovering Foods Ltd., Marine Management Organisation (MMO), MRAG Ltd., Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew), Seafish, UK Seafood Industry Alliance, Tesco Stores Limited, Wm. Morrison Supermarkets plc and WWF.

As a Code of Practice, this PAS takes the form of guidance and recommendations. It incorporates labour issues and considers illegal treatment of crew on fishing vessels to be linked with illegal fishing. It's long been recognised that the industry - including shrimps and prawns and the canning of tuna - has human rights issues for employees. One of the aims of this PAS is to help enable decent working conditions to be provided not only on board vessels but at all factories, work stations and during all activities throughout supply chains.

The PAS builds on the BRC Advisory Note for the UK supply chain on how to avoid Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishery products, which was published in February 2015, by including in addition, aspects of traceability as well as social elements. The PAS is aimed at processors and importers and gives recommendations on: the considerations within a due diligence system in order to minimise the risk of IUU seafood in the supply chain; the considerations to minimise the risk of a lack of decent conditions at work in the supply chain; and what traceability systems are used to deliver the ability to verify the claim.

Ensuring suppliers are aware of and are adopting the PAS will help hoteliers ensure their seafood supply chain is free of human rights issues.

A PAS is a document that standardises elements of a product, service or process. PASs are usually commissioned by industry leaders - be they individual companies, SMEs, trade associations or government departments.

The PAS was developed with the financial support of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew) and WWF) Its development was facilitated by BSI Standards Limited and it was published under licence from The British Standards Institution (BSI). It came into effect on 31 July 2017.

It's possible to request a free copy from this website.

Source: Green Hotelier

Talking Point: Could your kitchen fats, oils and greases boost the circular economy?

Restaurant kitchens face continuous drainage problems, so hotels need to be more aware of how they dispose of their fats, oils and greases.

Michelle Ringland, head of marketing at drainage specialist Lanes Group wonders whether hotels can find fats, oils and greases (FOG) solution that’s also eco-friendly.

Every year, drainage firms are called to deal with thousands upon thousands of blockages. There are many reasons for these occurring, but the most common cause is when FOGs are poured down drains. These congeal, solidify and eventually block the pipe - both in drains underneath the premises and along the streets in the sewers.

Sending out companies like ours to deal with drainage and sewer issues caused solely by blockages costs water companies, with bill payers having to cover the extra expense.

By virtue of the fact that commercial kitchens deal with such large quantities of oils and fats, it’s particularly crucial that hotel catering staff know exactly what to do with the waste product. But today there’s an eco-friendly solution that even helps hotels play a part in a more circular, sustainable economy.

Concerned that kitchen staff often lack the knowledge of how to deal with FOGs properly, we asked 60 drainage engineers, from a mixture of Lanes Group and other firms, about their experiences of dealing with the hospitality sector.

Almost all of them (94%) told us they’ve been called out to clear blockages caused by FOGs. Half said that they deal with issues in restaurants several times a week, while 70% said that staff members’ lack of knowledge was the biggest issue.

Below is our key advice to avoid having to spend quite so much on drainage callouts:

  • Keep your staff educated

Even when oils are hot, they can still block drains. It’s a misconception made by many, but once the oil cools down it hardens and won’t budge without expert intervention. Putting improved signage around kitchens is a small but important step hotels can make to help reduce blockages. It’s all about modifying people’s behaviour.

  • Oils like coconut and rapeseed do just as much damage

‘Fashionable healthy alternative’ oils such as coconut oil are just as harmful to drains as traditional cooking oils and fats, despite what’s sometimes claimed. It’s something that we’ve found many people in the sector seem to forget.

  • Waste oil can just be collected

It can be daunting, especially for smaller businesses, to know how to get rid of waste oil - especially if there’s a lot of it from fryers. Fortunately, it’s now possible to simply have it collected for disposal. Services like Uptown Oil collect used oil from your hotel and turn it into biodiesel. Their customers receive a certificate showing their contribution to carbon reduction and cleaner air. They’ll even deliver new sustainable vegetable oil to your hotel, and they can show you ways to get 30% more use from your oils, reducing waste and making your oil consumption more economical and sustainable. The biodiesel they create can be used in most diesel vehicles and unlike fossil fuels, it doesn’t add CO2 to the environment.

By partnering with a company that converts used oil into biodiesel, hotels are helping the environment and contributing to circular economy. Some companies also provide safe containers to store the oil before they pick it up. In the UK the Environment Agency will be able to let you know which services are available in your area. 

  • Have a grease trap installed - and make sure it’s emptied regularly

Make sure you’re providing the right facilities so your staff can easily dispose of fats and oils. Some 62% of the engineers we asked pointed out that a lack of appropriate facilities often leads to major drainage problems, and many suggested installing grease traps to combat the issue. Grease traps intercept FOGs before they manage to settle in drains, separating the water from all of those substances you don’t want to go down the pipe. They should be maintained regularly to ensure they’re working well – you’ll probably be shocked by how much oil, fat and grease they collect.

Don’t forget, it’s not just fats, oils and greases that can block drains. Solid food is also found to be a common culprit, so make sure every sink has a strainer. If you have floor drains, remember to never brush excess food down them - it all ends up in the same place after all!


Source: Green Hotelier