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Is more sustainability awareness needed in hospitality?

Posted: 8 October 2019 | | No comments yet

Nespresso hosted a panel session of industry leaders to discuss the awareness and solutions of sustainability within hospitality.

More sustainability awareness needed in hospitality, according to panel

Cost and lack of awareness remain the largest barriers to the implementation of sustainable practices within the hospitality industry. This was the message from restaurant and sustainability leaders that recently gathered at a panel event hosted by Nespresso and The Caterer.

The panel comprised Chef Michael Wignall; Nespresso UK’s Sustainability and Corporate Communications Lead, Julie Gallacher; Hospitality and Restaurant Consultant, Iain Donald; and Low Carbon and Circular Economy Lead for the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, Katie Thomas. The event explored both the opportunities and challenges of implementing sustainable procurement practices, covering topics such as sustainability of ingredients, packaging and waste management. 

Packaging

At Nespresso, recycling is said to be a core focus of the company’s sustainability strategy. In the UK, the business has operated a recycling system since 2009, and currently has the capacity to collect and process 100 percent of its used aluminium capsules, including the coffee grounds.

“We use aluminium in our packaging as it offers the dual benefit of being the best material that we have found so far to protect the freshness, taste and quality of our coffee, and also because it is infinitely recyclable. Once aluminium is in the system, it can be used again and again, which is why more than 75 percent of aluminium produced is still in use today,“ said Gallacher.

“Through our recycling scheme, Nespresso pods are smelted down and typically reused in drinks cans and car spare parts. The coffee grounds are also reused as a compost, mainly for large industrial sites. There are lots of opportunities to scale this up in the future and we are continually looking into how we can maximise the value of the coffee waste,” she added.

UK customers can recycle their used Nespresso capsules by dropping them off at a Nespresso Boutiques, a collection point or they can request a home collection.

The pressure of sustainability

“The media and consumer focus on sustainability has had a big impact in recent years, but it is a gradual process. Smart companies are making plans and have a strategy to implement, whether that is now or in the future,” said Donald. “This could include replacing equipment with more sustainable alternatives, menu engineering or demanding more of suppliers and looking at their integrity more closely. There is definitely movement there as companies realise that this is not going to go away. This is the future and it is important to get fully immersed in the subject.”

Wignall explained that, from a chef’s perspective, there is a responsibility to customers. The source and delivery of ingredients must be considered. “Around 80 percent of the ingredients we [the Angel at Hetton, Yorkshire] use are from the local area and we only use a few suppliers, rather than lots of different ones.”

Sourcing locally

One primary way to resolve the problem of small businesses who lack the time or workforce to conduct in-depth research about sustainable solutions, is sourcing locally, according to Thomas. This is said to enable face-to-face encounters with suppliers which will make it easier to understand where produce is coming from.

“We are also working closely with local businesses to increase understanding about the circular economy and enable collaboration. Our overall approach is focused on the positive opportunities that sustainable solutions can provide, such as helping businesses to improve their brand, save costs and increase profits,” Thomas said.  

Roles in sustainability

Gallacher stressed that the future is about collaboration, suggesting that issues around sustainability often cannot be addressed alone. “Nespresso’s recycling rate in the UK currently stands at 29 percent, up from 23 percent in August 2018, so we are focused on continuing to drive participation. Education is very important.”

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