Building a Green Supply Chain for Hotels

Hotel sustainability depends not just on the property-based management’s conservation practices, but also the practices of its many suppliers who provide products and services needed to serve guests.

Navigating the maze of factors isn’t easy. In comparing the sustainability virtues of similar products, for example, several manufacturers may use the same balance of environmentally friendly materials, but one company’s processes could be more resource-intensive and pollutant-heavy than another’s. Assessing each competitor’s dedication to conservation and safeguards can be an arduous task given the number of providers required to supply a hotel’s operations.

Sustainability certifications provide a simpler, faster way of determining the most credible options to build a green supply chain. For example, TRSA has a Clean Green certification program to verify that outsourced laundry services meet water and energy consumption limits and use industry-best management practices. The program helps determine whether outsourcing laundry reduces a hotel’s carbon footprint (compared with operating an on-premises laundry facility), and distinguishes one outsourced laundry provider from another in efficiency and waste minimization. Any product or service can be evaluated in a similar way.

To build a green supply chain, consider whether suppliers have done the following:

  1. Enlisted a credible third party to verify their claims.
  2. Quantified their conservation/discharge performance.
  3. Adhered to practices for protecting the environment that are recognized by peers as advanced for their industry.

It’s important to keep in mind that not every industry has a third-party certification program available. While other certifications and designations are available, hoteliers should keep in mind that these measures vary. Certifications evaluate specific products, services, processes, physical structures, and more. Comprehensive programs encompass a variety of products, services, processes, or physical plant attributes. Others may focus on just one of these categories. Each can help in gauging a supplier’s commitment to sustainability.

There is also the issue of how to make the case to your guests that your business is doing its share to preserve the environment. For example, the Green Seal requirement for maintaining an Environmentally and Socially Sensitive Purchasing Policy lists numerous practices for managing a green supply chain, such as stipulating recycled content of paper products.

Many hotel companies and managers are talking the talk about sustainability and green practices, but far fewer are “walking the walk.” Armed with knowledge about the most effective certifications will help hoteliers do both.


About the Author
Joseph Ricci is president and CEO of TRSA.

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