Sustainability: Do you use suppliers that are sustainable?
Part of being sustainable is using suppliers, and having partners and marketing representation, that have the same sustainability values as you.
There are three main ‘pillars’ of sustainability to consider – environmental, economic and socio-cultural. Environmental is our main focus in this article, but when sourcing consumable and longer-term products for your hotel, you should consider the economic effects (ie, where is the money going? Is it staying inside the country?) and socio-cultural effects (ie, is this going to positively affect the local community?)
When selecting your suppliers, there are a few questions you should ask:
- Does your company have a sustainability programme?
- What role does sustainability play in your company’s overall strategic plan?
- What are the main social, environmental, and economic challenges and opportunities in your company?
- What are the objectives and targets of your sustainability efforts and what progress has been made in meeting these goals?
- How ‘green’ are your products and what is your carbon footprint?
- Are you using alternative energy sources and how much water is used in processing?
- Do you have any certification to back up your sustainability credentials?
- Is your packaging material recyclable/made from recycled material?
Why ask questions? Any supplier that has made sustainability a priority will be able to answer these questions easily, with details, and provide enough information to back up their claims. It’s also important to not take information on websites or pamphlets at face value – asking important questions is a way of finding out if a company is greenwashing (ie, marketing spin that creates the perception of sustainability).
How sustainable is your supply chain?
So, you’ve spoken to your suppliers and made sure that their manufacturing process isn’t heavy on scarce resources and that they’ve got a sustainability programme in place, but what about the supply chain? Every product that you use is a sum total of every material, resource and process that has gone into its production. Find out more about your supply chain by asking your suppliers the following questions:
- Is there active measurement and monitoring of their consumption of scarce resources
- What raw materials are used in your product? Are these materials renewable? Where are they sourced from?
- What resources are used during processing?
- What wastes or other by-products are created? What happens to the waste?
- What are the working conditions like in the processing facilities of these products?
- How do the products get to the manufacturing facilities?
Each element of production has an impact on the total sustainability of the final product, so it really is worth investigating your entire supply chain.