Checking in with Accor’s sustainability goals

When taking on the newly created role of Chief Sustainability Office & Director of ESG, Accor Pacific’s David Young embarked on a journey to embed practices with a purpose.

Accor Group's Inspiring Green Initiative: 2

The legends at Accor are adept at building some of the region’s most iconic hotel brands. When you drop your bags and flop onto the bed at a Mantra, Peppers, Ibis or one of the many Accor properties, it’s a feeling akin to coming home. For Accor it is also about elevating an experience that respects the place we all call home – the planet.

Charged with driving effective and collective change to meet ESG and sustainability goals, David Young is at the helm of this journey that goes right to the top of the French-based business and that reports directly to the CEO. “Internally, the first step towards adopting new sustainable practices starts by taking a long hard look at the way we do things,” said David. “And that has meant making bold decisions about practices that are no longer fit for purpose. For example large and complex menus, which can result in a lot food waste, are not viable for the planet.”

Motivated to change

The good news is that the impetus for change is coming from right across the Accor Group, including property owners and investor groups. “Sustainability is high on the agenda and the challenge now is to transform the hotel experience, while engaging our guests in the journey,” said David. “So while we have removed ‘convenient’ single use plastic items guests are used to seeing, we are creating awareness around our impacts.” And it’s not just good for the planet, but also essential for reshaping and building the business culture internally.

“We are seeing a strong trend for workers to choose an employer based on their ethics and ESG credentials,” said David. “This is especially prevalent in the hotel sector which is skewed towards a younger workforce, who will look more deeply into an employer’s culture and track record – and this trend will only continue to grow with this generation.”

As a proud Stage and Screen hotel partner, Accor guests and business affiliates can sleep easy knowing that the Groups’ goal is to create green hotels, and ultimately regenerative hotels, which have a minimal environmental impact. Having already removed 43 single-use plastic items from the guest experience in the past 12 months, bigger challenges lie ahead. “We have to ensure that our initiatives are not just customer facing ones,” said David. “Our goal is to have no single use plastic in the entire operation.”

Another Accor target is to reduce emissions by 46 per cent by 2030 and to achieve net zero by 2050. “These ambitious goals rely on a number of factors including adopting new technology, the conscious design of properties and attention to the energy sources we choose,” explained David.

Waste not, want not

Food waste is the next big area for Accor to tackle. And let’s face it, we all want to be able to indulge occasionally, without the guilt. And in the case of hotel food, waste is one of the biggest challenges. “We’ve launched an internal program to understand our food waste, starting with a special kitchen weighing system to assess our scraps,” said David. “By understanding what’s being wasted, we can make changes to reduce it – because food sent to landfill makes a significant contribution to greenhouse gases. We also want to introduce smaller menus based around regionally sourced produce and menus where 25 per cent of the meals are plant based.”

David admits that some initiatives will take longer to embed than others, but Accor has no doubt that it is the right thing to do and their goal is to be a sustainability leader in the region. “We recently entered an arrangement for Ecotourism Australia to independently audit all our hotels and to have them all eco-certified in 12 months,” said David. “We believe that it’s important to work hand-in-hand with other hotel groups and tourism operators, because we need to build a critical mass to push sustainability to the forefront of the entire sector.”

For David, one of the highlights has been starting with a clean slate. “It’s a privilege to be able to help drive strategic and positive change and to bring others along for the journey,” he added. “And the good news is that the pace of change is growing and getting faster and faster every day.”

Find out more about the Accor properties included in the Stage and Screen hotel program here.

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