The hospitality industry is making progress on sustainability but many operators view the economic downturn as an obstacle to pursuing more eco-friendly policies, exclusive research has revealed.
An online survey of more than 360 hospitality professionals, conducted by Caterer for Green Month in association with Electrolux and First Choice Coffee, showed that 13% considered the credit crunch as the main barrier to reducing their environmental impact, with nearly one in five saying that other areas took priority.
While half of respondents had a formal sustainability policy in place, more than 20% did not and nearly a third (29%) said they didn't know whether such targets had been set at their company.
However, the survey showed that many hospitality businesses were making real progress, with 96% of respondents having recycling measures in place and 40% sourcing ethical produce.
Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said these results were "a real credit to the industry".
"With regards to the credit crunch, I can understand that some operators are worried," Couchman added. "But while some environmental measures - such as installing an energy-efficient boiler - require investment, others - including saving water and electricity - are good for the environment and save money."
More than 80% of respondents said customers were now more interested in green issues than they were a year ago, with nearly two-thirds of operators promoting themselves as environmentally responsible to their clients.
However, the survey revealed that many customers still wasted energy. Examples cited included hotel guests leaving on all the lights despite being out of the room for hours at a time and leaving heating at full but opening windows.
"Energy wastage is often a deliberate act on the part of the guest to show that they don't really care how much energy costs the business," said one respondent. "They don't get the bill so they don't care what the bill is."
When asked about what green jargon they felt was most meaningless, 40% answered "corporate social responsibility", while 22% cited "100% organic".
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By Kerstin Kühn
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