Hilton to halve environmental impact, starting with plastic straw ban

Global hospitality firm Hilton has unveiled a number of new sustainability ambitions that has seen it become the first in its sector to set an approved science-based target, alongside goals to halve water use and waste and remove plastic straws from its estate by the end of the year.

Hilton’s new 2030 sustainability goals have seen the firm commit to reducing its carbon intensity by 61% against a 2008 baseline, in line with the Paris Agreement’s pledge to keep global temperature increases below 2C. The target has been approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTI).

The company said its first milestone will be removing plastic straws from its 650 managed properties by the end of 2018 – a move which will see five million plastic straws removed from its waste streams each year.  Guests will instead be offered paper or biodegradable straws on request, with Hitlon simultaneously pledging to remove plastic water bottles from meetings and events in hotels across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), saving 20 million single-use bottles annually.

“As a leading global hospitality company, we have a huge responsibility to act as stewards of our natural resources, and support the communities in which we operate,” Hilton’s executive president and vice president for EMEA, Simon Vincent, said. “Extending a ban on plastic straws across our managed portfolio is an important move in the right direction, and one which we are committed to building on in the coming years.” 

The chain’s 2030 strategy also includes pledges to halve waste and water consumption levels, to source 100% sustainable meat, produce, seafood and cotton and to send no soap to landfill. It builds on Hilton’s previous sustainability schemes, which have already seen the firm cut carbon emissions and waste levels by 30% globally since 2008, saving more than $1bn in the process.

The updated strategy additionally sets out a commitment to double Hilton’s investment in social impact, with pledges to double funding for local and minority-owned suppliers, investment in programmes to help women and young people and money spent on natural disaster relief efforts by 2030.

The war on straws

Hilton is latest high-profile brand – notably in the hospitality sector – to announce plans to phase out single-use plastic straws from its properties as campaigners and politicians grow increasingly concerned about the damaging build-up of plastic waste in oceans.

Earlier this month, Accorhotels pledged to replace plastic straws in restaurants, bars and cafes in its 125 hotels with sustainable alternatives by June, while hoteliers including Malmaison and Hotel du Vin have also banned the products.

Several big-name hospitality and food service industry chains including JD Wetherspoon, McDonald’s, Costa Coffee, Pizza Express, Waitrose and All Bar One have also started phasing out plastic straws in the past year, in addition to Heathrow Airport and London City Airport.

Sarah George

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