In a finite world, striking a balance between the use of resources and ensuring that basic social standards are met is the crux of development. In business, the same applies: how do we navigate the murky waters of growth without depleting everything else? The global economy, with its fair share of challenges, is ripe for circularity but with little to show for to date as highlighted by the latest Circularity Gap Report [1]. Circularity offers many opportunities for businesses both in processes and development with a basic approach that includes: using less, using longer, using cleaner and using again. The final frontier of circular economy would be to design products which components can be reused indefinitely without loss of quality, or being disposed without any damage for the natural environment.

The Circular Economy is at the center of a growing debate and legislative initiatives both within Europe and globally. The European Commission adopted the Circular Economy Action Plan as a policy to accelerate Europe's transition towards a Circular Economy (in 2015 and renewed in 2020) [2, 3]. Initiatives under the Circular Economy Action Plan have repercussions on how businesses conduct and market their activities from using standard methods in quantifying claims about environmental footprint (making claims reliable) to tackling packaging waste.

Despite the increasing interest and attention given to circularity in political circles and certain industry sectors, the hospitality sector seems to be only partially involved with scattered initiatives. With this in mind, the following questions are to be considered:

  • Is a circularity in hospitality a myth or reality? Why? What are the circularity gaps?
  • If a 'reality', and on the base of your personal and professional experience, which are the best practices in implementing circularity in hospitality?

Bonus question:

  • What are the costs and benefits associated to circularity?

References

[1] GGRi (2022). The Circularity Gap Report 2021. https://www.circularity-gap.world/2021

[2] European Commission (2022). Circular economy action plan. https://ec.europa.eu/environment/strategy/circular-economy-action-plan_en

[3] European Commission (2015). Closing the loop - an EU action plan for the circular economy. COM/2015/0614 final. CELEX:52 015DC0614" target="_blank">http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52 015DC0614

Guest contributors: Lucia Tomassini & Elena Cavagnaro

Glenn Mandziuk
Glenn Mandziuk
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sustainable Hospitality Alliance
Nelly Gedeon
Nelly Gedeon
Founder and CEO of Wayaj, Inc.
Celine Vadam
Celine Vadam
Founder & CEO of WE(i) Think
Marloes Knippenberg
Marloes Knippenberg
CEO of Kerten Hospitality
Federico Vignati
Federico Vignati
Principal Executive at CAF - development bank of Latin America
Dan Ruben
Dan Ruben
Director, How to Green Your Hotel
Bastienne Bernasco
Bastienne Bernasco
Senior lecturer at Saxion UAS
Elena  Cavagnaro
Elena Cavagnaro
Professor of Sustainability in Hospitality and Tourism at Stenden University of Applied Sciences
Franziska Altenrath
Franziska Altenrath
Co-Founder at TUTAKA

Circularity as a concept faces restraints in hospitality companies. One explanation could be that hospitality managers hardly ever control the entire product or resource cycle from cradle to grave/ cradle. That being said, efforts for 1) improved recycling, 2) waste reduction and 3) utilization of used and recycling materials and resources has become a reality in most companies. Building awareness for what circularity entails and consists of will be key for getting the most out of existing materials and resources and limiting the use of new ones.

Willy Legrand
Willy Legrand
Professor of Hospitality Management at the IU International University of Applied Sciences, Germany