Soap Aid at Hilton Melbourne on the Park. Pictured: housekeeper Paola Landar
Soap Aid at Pullman Melbourne on the Park. Pictured: housekeeper Paola Landar
Soap Aid at Pullman Melbourne on the Park. Pictured: housekeeper Paola Landar

Accor has made great strides in protecting the environment and strengthening communities since the launch of its sustainable development program, Planet 21 in April 2012.

Accor’s Australia hotels performed well through Planet 21 with the following results in 2014:
-93% of 200 Australian hotels achieved Planet 21 Bronze status after having fulfilled at least ten fundamental action items (up from 80% in 2013);
-99% of Australian hotels use eco-friendly cleaning products;
-A commitment to plant more than 50,000 trees over 5 years in partnership with Greening Australia as part of Plant for the Planet; and
-Since 2011, Accor’s Race to Survive has raised well over $1 million dollars for Mission Australia services across the country to help transform the lives of Australians in need.

Planet 21, Accor’s global sustainable development programme, defines 21 specific commitments and quantifiable goals within these seven pillars of social, environmental and community investment actions: Health, Nature, Carbon, Innovation, Local, Employment and Dialogue. This commitment to sustainable development dates back to 1994, when the Group created a department charged with mitigating its hotels’ environmental impacts.

Australia’s Leadership in Sustainability
Accor hotels commitment is paying off in terms of operating efficiencies. In 2014, Australian hotels benefitted from a 4.64% reduction in water consumption and a 3.6% decrease in energy use versus 2013.

Accor’s hotels in Victoria have partnered with Soap Aid and are helping to reduce landfill and more importantly, are helping to bring better hygiene practices to disadvantaged communities in India. It is expected more than 1000kg of previously used soap across 40 hotels will be stockpiled each week and collected by Soap Aid to be reprocessed, packaged then sent for global distribution.

“Being ecologically sustainable is one of our key priorities and is aligned with Accor’s Planet 21 mission, which is to reduce our environmental footprint in the areas of management, energy, water, waste and products,” Accor’s Vice President of Operations for Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, Adrian Williams.

“We are excited by this initiative and our teams are enthusiastically involved. Not only are we reducing our landfill waste, we are positively contributing to the lives of children in communities where some of them have never seen a cake of soap before.

“Washing our hands is second nature to us and decreases our risk of infection dramatically. To be able to help in changing the mindset of young children and getting them into a habit of washing their hands to reduce infection is a wonderful thing, and we commend Soap Aid on coming up with such a great initiative and making a difference,” Williams said.

The Pullman, Novotel and ibis at Sydney Olympic Park are equipped with electricity and water heating systems based on solar energy. The Pullman has an innovative water heating system with solar tubes. The Novotel and ibis hotels have nearly 140 solar panels to heat the water they need, while the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park has equipped its roof with nearly 300 solar panels to produce electricity.

A 2014 highlight for Planet 21 is the formation of an Ethics and CSR Committee and the roll out of an Ethics and CSR Charter that focuses on management ethics, integrity and regulatory compliance, further strengthening Accor’s social and environmental responsibility.

Accor Australia leads Asia Pacific in its drive for equal gender representation in General Manager positions, with an ambitious target being set by Accor Australia to increase its number of women in senior leadership and executive positions, from 27% to 50% by 2018. In just 18 months following this commitment, the number of females in general manager roles at Accor has increased to 36%. Accor Australia is also committed to employing 500 indigenous employees across the network by the end of the year.

“Accor is proud of its commitment to Planet 21 and strives to minimize its environmental footprint while maximizing its corporate social responsibilities across all levels of hotel operations, and we are committed to hitting ambitious targets in 2015,” said Simon McGrath, Chief Operating Officer for Accor Pacific.

Highlights from Accor Asia Pacific Planet 21 achievements include:
-91% or more than 500 hotels achieved Planet 21 Bronze after having fulfilled at least ten fundamental action items (up from 80% in 2013);
-97% of Asia Pacific hotels offer guests eco-labelled products; and
-More than 225,000 trees planted around ten sites in this region since 2008

With over 630 hotels in Asia Pacific, Accor is the largest international hotel operator in Asia-Pacific and has a long-standing commitment to promoting responsible development across 19 countries. Waste recycling is practiced in 86% of the hotels while 93% of Accor hotels ban endangered seafood products like shark’s fin and are progressing towards a total ban by 2015.

In terms of health, 97% of Asia Pacific hotels use eco-labelled products to minimise health and environmental impact and 89% of hotels organize disease prevention training for employees. There has been significant progress in the area of responsible food and beverage, with 97% of hotels offering healthy menu options (up from 87% in 2013 against a target of 80%) and 87% promoting locally-grown produce (up from 82% against a target of 70%).

On the 21st of April, also known as Planet 21 Day, Accor employees take part in various activities such as tree planting, beach cleanup and the creative reuse of waste in the form of handicraft and fashion apparel in favour of sustainable development. In recognition of its efforts, Pacific Asia Travel Agency (PATA) awarded Accor the prestigious PATA Gold Award for Corporate Environmental Programme in 2013 and 2014.

Water: – 5.6% in water consumption since 2011 (owned and managed hotels)
Accor, which serves 56 million breakfasts a year on average, embarked on a new collaborative venture with Bridor, leader in bakery and pastry products, to reduce the environmental footprint of the baguettes and croissants. Improvements in the manufacturing process have enabled electricity and water consumption reduction by 10% and 30% consecutively in the last two years.

Energy: – 4.5% in energy consumption and – 3.8% in CO2 emissions since 2011 over the owned and managed hotel base
Through the Carbon Optimizer, B2B clients can reduce the carbon footprint of their meetings and conventions. This online tool calculates the carbon footprint of a convention based on the number of participants, the length of their stay and their catering choices. The client receives the carbon assessment together with an invitation to participate in Accor’s reforestation projects.

Waste: almost 90% of all the Group’s hotels recycle their waste
Hotels in many countries, including Thailand and the United Arab Emirates, participate in the “Soap For Hope” operation. The used soaps are collected then recycled by Diversey, Accor’s main supplier of eco-label cleaning products, to be distributed to underprivileged communities.

HotelInvest commits to greener buildings
In 2014 the Group’s asset management division strengthened its commitment to sustainable construction with building certification according to environmental and energy performance standards (LEED, BREEAM, HQE) for owned hotels built as of 2015. To date, 11 buildings have been certified in five countries, including Mercure Kraków City Center, the first BREEAM-certified hotel in Poland, which will open at end 2016. In addition, almost 300 Group hotels use renewable energy sources. The Olympic Park hotel complex in Sydney, Australia is equipped with electricity and hot water production systems that harness solar energy.

Plant For The Planet: More than 150 sites planted in 21 countries
In seven years, Accor has planted four million trees through a tower re-use programme and generated €13 million in laundry savings, of which half was reinvested in over 150 reforestation projects that helps finance reforestation or agro-forestry projects, addressing local issues.”

Accor will be submitting a very unusual resolution at its Shareholders Meeting on 28 April this year: the “Tree Resolution”. The Group is hoping to bring shareholders on board to step up its Plant for the Planet program, with a commitment to plant 10 million trees looking to 2021.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management