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How to build a sustainable hospitality business

Hospitality businesses should aim to operate ethically and in a sustainable way. It is right thing to do and a way to stand out from the crowd.

Discerning patrons spend more time and thought deciding where they eat, drink or stay. Good food, efficient service and an attractive price may not be enough to attract them to your hospitality business.

According to Nielsen research, 66 percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. In fact, those brands that are able to communicate their sustainable and ethical approach are more likely to enhance their reputation and attract new business.

Food waste management

WRAP estimates, the UK hospitality sector alone, could save £724m a year through better waste management. The following businesses provide inspiring examples how food waste can be managed:

The Dairy

The Dairy restaurant use Indie Ecology to supply food bins for food scraps, meat, fish and dairy. The bins are collected when full and the contents is turned into compost on their Sussex farm to grow produce for the restaurant.


All waste in their restaurants is diverted from landfill.  As well as using a sustainable contractor, they also have strong controls for their waste collection and management. The food waste is converted into biogas to produce renewable energy and liquid fertilizer for spreading on farmland. Furthermore, their cooking oil is sourced locally and used oil is processed into bio fuel to power vehicles in London. In 2016, they became the first restaurant in 2016 in the UK to be certified CarbonNeutral. As a result of the aforementioned and other measures the company have reduced the average energy consumption of newer and older sites by 36% and 15% respectively.


Ikea use innovative food bins with specially designed scales to weigh and measure tossed food to save over $1m. In addition, using this technology, they aim to reduce their overall food waste by 50% by 2020.

Green King

The majority Greene King’s sites divert between 80-96% of their waste from landfill in 2018. For example: 1m litres of used cooking oil; 2,520 tonnes of food waste; 8,527 tonnes of glass; 1,870 tonnes of cardboard; 122 tonnes of plastic and 19 tonnes of tin. In addition, all their pubs, restaurants and hotels use low energy LED bulbs and supplied with 100% renewable electricity.

Recycling and sustainability

According to WRAP, the UK currently recycle approximately 50% of plastic bottles and just 12-15% of mixed plastics, so there is still progress to be made.

Coffee republic

Coffee Republic were one of the first coffee shops to introduce reusable cups in 2018 to reduce the number of disposable cups used. In addition, offering a 15p discount to incentivise customers to bring their own.


Neil Rankin at Temper replaced plastic straws with ones made with cornstarch, stopped using vacuum packing.

Hilton Bankside

Hilton worked with The Vegan Society to create the world’s first vegan hotel suite. The measures they undertook to achieve this includes:

  • The provision of vegan stationery and snacks in their mini bar
  • Provide shower cap and nail kit using recycled packaging
  • Use sustainable plant-based materials such as Modo Bamboo to make the flooring and Piñatex made from pineapple leaves to upholster furniture
  • The use of environmentally friendly cleaning products


To conclude this article, here are our final takeaways to create a sustainable and ethically run hospitality Business:

  • Look at ways where you can recycle, reduce food waste, use less environmentally damaging materials and use less energy
  • Involve your staff to write a sustainability action plan that is realistic and achievable
  • Set aside a budget from your capital reserves or raise hospitality finance to get started
  • Be consistent. The journey to a sustainable and ethically run business is not a one step process but an ongoing one.
  • Celebrate milestones with staff and also communicate your green credentials to customers through your social media channels, website and in-store.