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Sustainable Practices in Hospitality

Sustainable Practices in the Hospitality Industry: What You Need to Know


In a world increasingly conscious of environmental sustainability, the hospitality industry is stepping up to the plate. The industry, encompassing hotels, restaurants, and offices, is taking a critical look at its operations and practices. As the importance of limiting environmental harm becomes clearer, these businesses are gradually shifting towards eco-friendly initiatives and sustainable practices. However, such transitions, while crucial, pose unique challenges, particularly for small enterprises. So, what does it mean for the hospitality industry to be sustainable, and how can businesses effectively adapt?

Understanding Sustainable Practices in Hospitality

Sustainability in the hospitality industry involves embracing business practices and principles that not only ensure business longevity but also minimise environmental harm. This could include investing in energy-efficient operations, focusing on waste reduction, sourcing food and materials locally, conserving water, and promoting sustainable building design.

It is vitally important that the hospitality industry adopts more sustainable practices. The industry already plays a large role in impacting our global ecosystem. The hotel industry accounts for 1% of global emissions and is due to increase as the industry expands. Food production is one of the largest contributors to biodiversity degradation. “Contributing, 60–70% to date of total biodiversity loss in terrestrial ecosystems, and about 50% of biodiversity loss in freshwater systems.” By adopting more sustainable ways of sourcing food and materials the hospitality industry and restaurants more specifically can have a major impact on combating biodiversity loss and keeping our environment healthy for future generations to explore and enjoy.

Despite the momentum behind such practices, the economic, logistical, and operational realities of these transitions can be daunting. For instance, transitioning to energy-efficient appliances may require a significant understanding of new technologies. Waste reduction could necessitate a drastic overhaul of existing business processes, and sourcing locally may demand the creation of new, local supplier relationships. Water conservation and sustainable building design, meanwhile, often require expert guidance and long-term commitments.

Economic Implications of Sustainable Practices

Even with the clear environmental benefits, implementing sustainable practices often requires substantial initial investment, which can present a significant hurdle, especially for small businesses. These businesses, already dealing with a range of issues from cost-of-living crises and supply chain shortages to the economic fallout of the pandemic, may find the initial costs of sustainable transitions burdensome.

However, it’s important to note that while retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency or investing in eco-friendly appliances and materials can be expensive initially, these investments often lead to considerable cost savings in the long term. Moreover, a robust commitment to sustainability can enhance a business’s reputation among an increasingly eco-conscious consumer base, potentially driving increased patronage and profits.

Consumer’s mind frames are shifting to include sustainability in their considerations when making purchases. For example, over 53% of people want to travel more sustainably in the future and in a study conducted in 2021, it was found that 81% of travellers surveyed said they plan to choose a sustainable accommodation option in the upcoming year. Further demonstrating the economic benefits that come from transitioning to more sustainable business practices.

Supply Chain Sustainability: An Opportunity or a Challenge?

Hospitality industry sustainability extends beyond a business’s immediate premises; it should permeate the entire supply chain. That means businesses should strive to ensure that their goods and services are not just produced but also delivered sustainably. This applies to all aspects of the business, from sourcing food and beverages that are organic and locally grown, to procuring furniture and supplies produced using sustainable materials and methods.

While this might increase costs and add logistical complexities, there are substantial opportunities for those who embrace supply chain sustainability. They can forge new partnerships with local suppliers, bolstering local economies while reducing the environmental impact of long-distance transport. Plus, this approach can result in fresh, unique offerings that differentiate a business from its competitors.

The Human Resources Perspective

Staff involvement plays a vital role in any sustainability journey. The daily actions of employees can significantly contribute to a business’s sustainability efforts. Therefore, training and motivating staff to adopt sustainable practices, from reducing food waste to saving energy, is a crucial aspect of the transition to sustainable operations.

However, this shift can also present human resources challenges. Staff might need time to adapt to new ways of working, and businesses may need to invest in training or incentives to encourage these new behaviours.

McAra’s Commitment to Sustainability

As active players in the hospitality industry, we at McAra understand the gravity of our responsibility towards the environment. We’ve embarked on a sustainability journey, implementing changes that result in meaningful, lasting impact.

Our actions include investing in energy-efficient infrastructure to reduce our carbon footprint, ensuring our business operations are not just efficient but eco-friendly.

Beyond our own practices, we’ve committed to sustainable sourcing. We carefully select suppliers who match our commitment to sustainability, ensuring the quality and integrity of our services and products.

We’re also nurturing a culture of sustainability within our team and extending this ethos to our clients. By doing so, we hope to inspire and facilitate a broader adoption of sustainable practices within the hospitality industry. At McAra, our vision of sustainability is more than just a policy; it’s an integral part of our identity.

Regulation, Incentives, and the Future of Sustainable Hospitality

Regulation and incentives have a significant role in promoting sustainable practices in the hospitality industry. Many sustainable practices involve upfront investments that can lead to substantial long-term savings. Various incentives and schemes are available to support businesses in this transition, including tax incentives, grants, and recognition programs for businesses demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.

What Could Make the Transition Easier?

Every hospitality business is unique and will have differing sustainability needs and capabilities. Clearer guidelines, tailored financial support, and resources from the government and industry bodies could significantly ease the transition.


In conclusion, the hospitality industry is at a pivotal turning point. Balancing sustainability needs with economic and logistical realities is a complex task, but with adequate support, this transition can be mutually beneficial for both businesses and the environment. Change is inevitable, but with foresight and adaptability, businesses can ride the wave of sustainability towards a brighter, greener future.