Exclusive research: Attitudes are changing towards sustainability

02 October 2007
Exclusive research: Attitudes are changing towards sustainability

Exclusive research conducted by Caterer and Hotelkeeper in association with 3663 First for Foodservice shows that attitudes towards sustainability among hospitality operators are changing for the better

The hospitality industry still has some way to go to get its sustainable act in order, but it's heading in the right direction, according to new research commissioned by food service wholesale distributor 3663 First for Foodservice and Caterer and Hotelkeeper.

While most of the hospitality professionals surveyed admitted that delivering sustainability lagged way behind other motivating factors such as delivering great customer service, more than half (54%) said it was either "extremely important" or "very important" to their business. And one in 25 said working towards sustainability was actually the most important factor to their business.

Interestingly, two-thirds (65%) of respondents felt the hospitality industry was either doing the same (49%) or better (16%) in terms of achieving sustainability as other industries, with just a third (35%) deeming it to have a worse track record in this area.

In terms of personal attitude, most respondents said they were interested in sustainability and did what they could in areas like recycling and sourcing. Only a small percentage admitted to not being interested in sustainability (4%) or climate change (9%).

The best examples of sustainability practices in the hospitality industry were seen as buying local produce (27%), cutting energy costs (19%) and recycling (11%). However, saving water hardly figured (4%), suggesting that there's still a long way to go in this key area. The worst examples in the industry were seen as sourcing products from far away (17%), with one respondent citing the irony of companies importing "organic" produce from overseas wasting energy (14%) and not recycling products (13%).

In terms of work already being done in their own businesses, the three most popular initiatives were recycling (84%), cutting down on waste (77%), and training and staff development (67%). Sustainable sourcing policies were also popular, such as sourcing local produce (60%), sourcing sustainable or ethical products (47%), and minimising food miles (40%).

But it appears that while hospitality businesses are implementing sustainable strategies they're not thinking ahead. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said their businesses either had not set, or they were not aware of them having set, formal sustainability targets. And one in six (16%) said their business did not have a sustainability plan.

On the plus side, most of those (71%) who have introduced sustainability programmes said staff were either "well informed" or "fairly well informed".

The research also indicated that the pace of progress is picking up, with a quarter of those polled saying that their businesses had implemented sustainability policies during the past 12 months.

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