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PLANET 21 is the sustainable development programme of global hotel operator Accor. With PLANET 21, the hotel – along with more than 3,500 Accor hotels worldwide – has made a commitment to operate more responsibly, with 21 core goals, such as a 15% reduction in water consumption, a 10% increase in energy efficiency and a total ban on endangered fish species - like shark - by 2015.
The team at ibis Bencoolen took up the challenge and set out to find locally-relevant approaches to meet these objectives. Months of brainstorming culminated in several innovative ideas that will be implemented in stages, but Eco-Pen is the first to see the light of day.
Sparked by the idea that ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’, the hotel has launched a unique initiative that will reduce its consumption of plastic, raise awareness about recycling and improve the standard of living for a low-income community. The Eco-Pen is made from recycled newspaper and will replace the traditional pens used in the hotel.
Conceived by Steven Ding, the hotel’s housekeeping manager, the Eco-Pen supports several PLANET 21 objectives, including recycling, eco-innovation and community development. Steven and his colleagues were struck by the fact that over 50,000 newspapers and 18,000 plastic pens were being thrown out each year and they set out to address this environmental impact.
Benefiting the environment and inspiring change, Eco-Pen’s USP is its casing made from recycled newspaper. Additionally, the pen represents an opportunity to invite guests along on the hotel’s sustainability journey; a rare opportunity in an industry where most environmental improvements are not immediately visible to guests – energy efficient lighting, water flow regulators or renewable energy, for example.
“The Eco-Pen helps us put a small dent in the hotel’s plastic consumption and gives used newspapers a new life. More importantly, however, we see the pen as a powerful tool to help us engage guests on sustainability,” said Pierre-Etienne Demontgrand, General Manager, ibis Singapore on Bencoolen. “Initial reactions of guests and colleagues have been enthusiastic. We hope that the Eco-Pen will inspire guests to be more sustainable in their daily lives – by recycling more.”
Beyond the project’s environmental benefits, Eco-Pen also has a social component, providing supplemental income for a Jakarta community that has long been supported by Accor hotels in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia under the A Tree for a Child programme.
Since 2001, the programme has aimed to help Indonesia’s poorest children while contributing to the preservation of forests. For example, ibis Bencoolen invests savings generated from guests reusing their towels, in a sustainable forestry project in Central Java; financing nearly 19,000 trees since opening and providing a source of sustainable income for some 200 families. In Jakarta, the programme operates an education centre offering medical care, sports facilities, libraries and classrooms.
The launch of the Eco-Pen expands this collaboration, with the aim of improving the standard of living for families, by employing 25 mothers, who earn roughly 14,500 rupiah per hour – nearly eight per cent more than the average pay outside the community. This supplementary income enables the women to improve their families’ financial security and helps their children continue their education.
“A Tree for a Child has financially supported my child’s education since he was in primary school,” said Ibu Tami, one of the women living in the community. “Now that he is in senior high school, the Foundation’s support continues with the Eco-Pen project. I am happy that I am able to supplement my family’s income while still having time to take care of my family at home.”
Ibis Bencoolen has already ordered 50,000 Eco-Pens and is engaging other Accor hotels in the region to expand the reach of the programme, with a target of one million pens ordered by the end of 2013.
Initiatives like this have helped push Accor to another win for their sustainability credentials. Earlier this year the hotel operator was named the Eco Group of the Year at the AA Hospitality Awards 2013.
Karelle Lamouche, VP multi-brand Marketing Services, Accor UK & Ireland, said, “This recognition from the AA reflects the ongoing success of our sustainability programme, PLANET 21, and our longstanding commitment to operating as a responsible and environmentally-conscious business. “This year, we announced that our Plant for the Planet programme will fund 200,000 trees in the United Kingdom in a pioneering project designed to promote sustainable food production and nurture links between hotels, guests and farms. We are proud to focus our efforts on protecting the planet, its people and the environment”.
Accor Hotels in the UK launched their agro-forestry partnership with Pur Projet in May 2013 to mark the first anniversary of PLANET 21. So far, thanks to the laundry savings generated by the Plant for the Planet programme, Accor hotels have funded the planting of 3 million trees worldwide.
Accor was the first international hotel group to carry out a full analysis of its environmental footprint. In a year-long study it worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers to understand the impact of its hotels’ direct activities and its global supply chain. A 30-page report published in February 2012 detailed its impact in five key areas: energy consumption; water consumption; waste production; greenhouse gas emissions; and water pollution.
Following that study Accor launched PLANET 21, a global sustainability strategy which made 21 social and environmental commitments and set targets for the group to meet by 2015. They include:
Since 2005, the Group has developed and introduced Charter 21, an innovative tool to monitor individual hotels’ sustainability performance worldwide and guide them along a staged sustainability journey. It defines concrete actions to improve each hotel’s performance in key areas:
The first stage, bronze, defines 10 core environmental goals which can be met with little or no expenditure. Worldwide 60% of Accor hotels now meet or exceed this standard, up from 24% a year ago. Many have gone further: 25% have reached silver, 6% gold and 0.4% the highest level - platinum.
In the UK 62% of hotels have achieved or exceeded bronze level. Some 17% are on silver and 6% have reached gold. Overall UK hotels are making strong progress on many of the Charter 21 actions. Of the owned, leased and managed hotels it controls directly:
Details of Accor’s global progress against its commitments in 2012 are available here.