World Panel
Viewpoint27 May 2020

Hygiene and Sustainability: How to make both work?

Sustainability in Hospitality

— 17 experts shared their view

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Hygiene and Sustainability: How to make both work?
This viewpoint was created by
Franziska Altenrath, Co-Founder at TUTAKA
Catherine Dolton
Vice President Global Corporate Responsibility at InterContinental Hotels Group

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic means that companies may have to reprioritise their focus for the short-medium term, as the effects of the pandemic unfold and pressures shift. With safety, security and hygiene rightly becoming of utmost importance, it doesn't necessarily mean that environmental sustainability stops being a priority.

For the hospitality industry, new and enhanced hygiene and cleaning measures are being adopted and these, as we have seen across all industries, can lead to varying impacts on sustainability, with clear challenges to navigate and opportunities to take. For example, at IHG, we've found that this opportunity to relook at processes can offer some wins for the environment – such as moving to paperless billing and fewer printed items in the hotel, reducing waste and natural resource impact. However, to help us navigate this fast-changing world of new-normals, there are key principles that should guide us all in this area:

1. We're interconnected, and that means collaboration is key

Covid-19 is something that is affecting businesses and communities all around the world. The scale of this pandemic has highlighted just how interconnected industries, businesses, and economies are. As focus shifts to enhanced hygiene measures, this connected ecosystem means that sustainability strategies and goals must adapt and look to find new solutions that can provide increased hygiene in a more sustainable way across the board. From governments, manufacturing, supply and business, this will take cross-sector collaboration to innovate and move at pace to balance hygiene and sustainability factors.

2. Don't lose sight of the long-term

Enhanced cleaning measures are likely to be with us for the foreseeable future, and will inevitably change how the hospitality industry operates from here on in. At IHG, frequent consultation with our Corporate Responsibility team as part of the process of establishing new hygiene measures are acting as a sounding board – ensuring we have an eye to the future to recognise necessary short-term choices and understand how we take action to look for more sustainable solutions moving forward.

3. Understanding that progress is progress in the face of complexity

The safety and security of our guests and colleagues is non-negotiable, and we know this could lead to short-term trade-offs for sustainability efforts. This requires an understanding that any trade-offs should be just that, short-term, and should be balanced with longer-term plans to implement more sustainable alternatives. In any case, it's clear that there is a need for flexibility, understanding and compromise as the hospitality industry, like many others, navigates through one of the biggest challenges it has ever had to face.

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