A hotel can be regarded as a community within a community, where guests are offered a wide variety of services. It doesn’t just provide a comfortable bed, but also meals, cultural events, functions, entertainment, health-related activities, experiences and much more. These services all consume natural resources. For this reason, issues relating to water, chemical products, energy and waste are important both to the environment and to the financial aspects of the operation.
A systematic approach to the environment and Swan labelling
JanPeter Bergvist, who works with sustainability issues at Scandic hotels, tells us that over the years, the chain has introduced a large number of measures aimed at reducing its environmental impact.
”When our hotels changed to low-energy light bulbs and water-saving toilets, water consumption fell by 14 percent and energy consumption by 17 percent”, he says. He adds that Scandic was the first hotel chain in the world to introduce environmentally-adapted systems for shampoo and soap.
”Over the past ten years, we have generated 400 million fewer units of disposable packaging.”
The hotels have also reduced the amount of cleaning agents used, and introduced eco-labelled chemical cleaning agents, as well as equipment which provides the right dosages. By introducing a simple sorting system in the hotel rooms, the hotels and their guests have together reduced the amount of unsorted waste by 67 percent.
The eco-labelling of hotels involves adopting a holistic approach to environmental issues, and today, 106 of Scandic’s 133 hotels have been awarded the Swan label. Important areas include energy and water consumption, as well as the use of chemicals. The purchase of materials and services are also significant components in the work aimed at improving the environment, and Scandic has developed a special supplier declaration which states, among other things, which chemical products must not be used.
Eco-labelled breakfasts and eco-rooms
Today, more than eleven percent of the food in the breakfast buffet is KRAV labelled, and every year, Scandic uses 1,000 tons of organic food. In 2006, the hotel chain decided to remove king prawns from the menus at its hotels in the Nordic region and the Baltic states, as a result of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation’s campaign to highlight the environmental pro- blems caused by prawn farms.
Scandic’s first ”eco-room” opened its doors in 1995. The materials in the room were selected with the environment in mind. Wood, wool and cotton replaced synthetic materials. Today, around 16,000 rooms are classed as eco-rooms, the equivalent of more than two-thirds of the hotel chain’s rooms. A natural extension of the eco-room concept was the development of the ”eco-hotel”. The first of these was built in 1997, and today, Scandic has seven eco-hotels in the Nordic region.
This article was first published in Advantage Environment printed in February 2008