AccorHotels now using 600 onsite urban food gardens

Hospitality giant AccorHotels has announced that it is on track to install urban fruit and vegetable gardens at 1,000 of its 4,500 global hotels by 2020, as part of its commitment to cut emissions from food transportation and reduce its food waste output.

The hotelier has today (August 9) revealed that it has fitted 600 of its locations worldwide with the gardens, which supply fresh vegetables, herbs and salads to be used in its restaurant and bar menus, putting the chain on track to meet its target of installing 400 more over the next two years. To date, 26 of these gardens are at UK branches, including the Novotel hotels in Canary Wharf, Paddington and Waterloo.

AccorHotels said in a statement that the move to build the gardens would help the company meet its target of reducing food waste from its restaurants – which collectively serve more than 150 million meals each year – by 30% by 2020, while boosting the traceability, and reducing the environmental footprint, of its produce supply chains.

“As a group that produces a lot of food for our guests across the world, it is vital that we play our part in reducing food waste and investing in sustainable food systems,” AccorHotels’ chief operating officer for Northern Europe, Thomas Dubaere, said.

“Our hotels are encouraged to source local produce, reducing the environmental impact from their food purchases and providing outlets for farmers to sell their produce.”

As well as shortening the produce supply chain, AccorHotels claims that installing urban gardens has improved the biodiversity and air quality in the areas surrounding its hotels, reduced the urban heat island effect and urban runoff and provided better heat and sound insulation to buildings which have rooftop gardens.

In addition to produce from onsite, pesticide-free gardens – which make use of hydroponic, aquaponic and vertical farming innovations to thrive – AccorHotels regularly uses honey produced from beehives on hotel rooftops across its restaurants. For example, the Novotel London Tower Bridge has recently been fitted with hives on its rooftop garden, with AccorHotels estimating that this will enable kitchen and bar staff to harvest 30kg of honey by the end of 2018.

Branching out

AccorHotels’ commitment to build urban gardens at its hotels forms part of the chain’s Planet 21 sustainability strategy, which was launched in 2012 and sets out a range of 2020 targets across topics such as eco-design, energy efficiency and water stewardship, alongside sustainably sourced food.

The strategy additionally includes the company’s Plant For The Planet initiative, which has seen AccorHotels commit to plant 10 million trees by 2021 through a string of global agroforestry and reforestation projects.

As of 2016, it has planted five million trees in 26 countries through the initiative – but Dubaere noted that the need to champion sustainable agriculture in a city environment had grown since Plant For The Planet launched in 2009.

“Our backing of agroforestry projects supports sustainable food production in rural areas, but almost 70% of the global population will live in cities by 2050, so we also feel it is important to mitigate the increasing consumption in urban areas,” Dubaere added.

The launch of the urban garden initiative came after AccorHotels last year became a signatory of WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 2025, committing to achieve at least a 20% reduction in food waste and greenhouse gas emissions. To date, more than XYZ companies across a range of sectors have signed up to the commitment, with signatories representing 95% of the UK food market. 

Sarah George

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