Hospitality Supply Chains: Massive footprint or a force of good?
— 13 experts shared their view
Slowly but surely, supply chains and procurement practices are taking their rightful place on hospitality's sustainability agendas. For too long, the negative environmental and socio-economic impacts linked to the industry's procurement practices have remained unnoticed, overlooked and, ultimately, accepted. Whether food and beverages (F&B), furniture, fixture and equipment (FF&E), operational supply and equipment (OS&E), utilities or services, there is room for improvement in every stage and in every area. In a highly competitive market such as the hotel industry, decision are often driven by cost efficiency. As a consequence, supply chains are often oriented towards the lowest wages and cheapest materials, especially in regards to OS&E and FF&E. What are the key objectives steering procurement practices in hotels today and tomorrow? Which measures have shown great results and how can improvements be tracked? What does a sustainable supply chain management mean to you and your organisation? And, what role do guests play in supporting sustainable procurement practices?
Senior Research Fellow in Sustainability at Hotelschool The Hague
Garbage in = Garbage out
Global supply chains are causing a disconnect between producer and consumer, resulting in an environmental and social disbalance. Analyzing the material flow in a hotel makes you realize that carefully assessing what materials go in is very much defining the sustainability impact of a hotel. Creating such an input – output balance is helpful to assess which products are creating a negative or positive impact. Although this is easier said than done.
Deciding what aspects need to be improved is complicated, because how to measure its impact? And what aspect of sustainability or circularity is most crucial or most valued by the company or guest? Hotels might not have access to the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the product. Suppliers can be a crucial 'man in the middle' in this respect. They can help and show alternative solutions (or rethink a service). Currently the exchange between these two groups is limited, but it does have great potential. Active exchange between hotels and suppliers shows that both parties are willing to act.
If hotels have clear procurement processes and rules, sustainable decision can be better secured in the organization for instance by defining requirement on local sourcing, use of primary, secondary and tertiary packaging. Or a ban on some certain packaging!
The saying: 'Garbage in - garbage out' is also true in this context and obviously not fitting our notions on Circularity.