Expert’s Voice: How hotel companies can be water smart

by | 04 Oct 2019 | Experts

A school in Kenya supported by Just a Drop – partners of the Radisson Hotel Group.

As water is the key to a sustainable future, Inge Huijbrechts from Radisson Hotel Group outlines their various sustainability programs as a signatory of the UN CEO Water Mandate.

According to the UN, up to 700 million people could be displaced by water scarcity by 2030. Providing enough safe water for a growing global population is one of the world’s major challenges.

World Water Week, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), is an annual conference that has been running for nearly 30 years – and is the world’s most influential movement dedicated to tackling water issues around the world.

As fresh water is a limited resource, it poses one of the most vital sustainable development challenges of our time. And a key element of World Water Week is highlighting real impactful actions that companies – some of the main consumers of water around the world – can take to conserve this precious resource and ensure its use is equitable. This is highlighted by the theme of the 2019 World Water Week: ‘Water for society: Including all’ which fully aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Safe Drinking Water for All.

Worthwhile initiatives

It’s exactly these types of actions that Radisson Hotel Group, as a signatory of the UN CEO Water Mandate, is proud to carry out. We were the first hospitality company to endorse the UN CEO Water Mandate in 2014. And, since then, we have focused on water stewardship to reduce our water footprint in operations, helping to bring safe water and WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) to communities and looking for innovations.

One great example of such a WASH initiative is the way we implemented the hotel industry’s now-ubiquitous towel re-use program. At Radisson Hotel Group, we have partnered with Just a Drop in this area since 2015, donating to the organization every time a guest chooses to use their towels another day. These donations are used to fund sustainable water supply and sanitation projects, such as installing water capture dams and catchments, water pumps and filtration; and implementing sanitation measures such as toilets and handwashing stations. It helps families to stay healthy and increase children’s school attendance.

Since we started the initiative in 2015, more than five million towels have been re-used at our hotels, which amounts to providing more than 25,000 women and children with clean drinking water through Just A Drop projects in Kenya, India, Nicaragua and Peru.

Another WASH initiative is Soap for Hope™, a soap recycling action in partnership with one of our main suppliers, Diversey. The project sees local communities take used soap from our hotels, sanitize it and turn it into new bars by community organizations such as women’s groups. The new soap bards can then be sold to produce income for local families or are donated to those in need in the community.

Besides community linked initiatives, our hotels have massively reduced their average per guest-night water consumption by over 30% in the last 10 years. Approximately 11% of our hotels across EMEA recycle grey water on-site. This has resulted in the saving of 206,000+ cubic meters of water last year – equivalent to 824 Olympic-sized swimming pools being collected for reuse. In addition, we were able to collect 68,000+ cubic meters of rainwater in 2018 for usage in several of our hotels.

Sustainability on offer

We are also testing innovations that have an important impact on the hotels’ water consumption. One example is the biological cleaning solutions from ACT.Global. This solution saves a third of the water used when cleaning guestrooms, provides anti-bacterial protection and clean VOC-free air in the room.

Even with our newest sustainable offer, 100% carbon neutral Radisson meetings, we indirectly link to safe drinking water and indoor air in communities around the world.

With 100% carbon neutral Radisson meetings, Radisson Hotel Group automatically offsets the carbon footprint of all the meetings and events held at its hotels worldwide. Several of the gold standard carbon offsetting projects have been chosen to focus on providing clean cooking methods and safe drinking water.

As a responsible business leader, water stewardship is of great importance to us and we’ll continue to reduce our hotels’ footprint and develop more actions.

We can’t take clean drinking water for granted. Without water, we have no future. So, let’s all be more water smart and make it the key to a sustainable future for all.

Inge Huijbrechts

Inge Huijbrechts

Global Senior Vice President, Radisson Hotel Group

Inge Huijbrechts is the Global Senior Vice President Responsible Business and Safety & Security at Radisson Hotel Group.
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