Talking Point: Sustainable supply chains at Hilton Worldwide

Supply Chain

For this month's Supply Chain theme, we interviewed Judy Pines, the new Director of Strategic Sourcing Sustainability and Special Projects at Hilton Worldwide to find out how and why sustainable supply chains are on the agenda for leading hotel companies.

Tell us a bit about your new role and what you hope to achieve?

I’m the Director of Strategic Sourcing Sustainability and Special Projects. As the lead sustainability resource within Hilton Supply Management (HSM), Hilton Worldwide’s purchasing division, I’m responsible for the coordination of all global corporate responsibility strategy and planning to ensure that Hilton Supply Management is aligned with Hilton Worldwide’s corporate values and corporate responsibility strategy.

As part of Hilton Worldwide’s responsible sourcing strategy, we have a Responsible Sourcing Advisory Group of which I am the facilitator. Our purpose is to ensure the global alignment of responsible business objectives across our regions and to share sustainable business practices and opportunities.  The group is comprised of leads from our Supply Management and Corporate Responsibility teams located in the Americas, EMEA and APAC.

The sharing of information on the environmental and social programs and initiatives that are being rolled out in each of our regions is important.  It’s my responsibility to ensure that we are delivering a consistent approach and message to a global audience rather than limiting ourselves regionally, which is what was being accomplished previously.

I will also be evaluating opportunities for increasing awareness of our sourcing programs and reporting, such as in our Corporate Responsibility Report.  In support of RePurpose, Hilton Worldwide’s waste  program that helps hotels  find creative ways to reduce, reuse and recycle waste, we will be providing additional resources on other  environmental  programs in a variety of internal communications and engagement channels.  This will increase visibility to our hotel portfolio of 12 brands as well as to our global Team Members.

Why is this role important?

This role has given Hilton Supply Management a dedicated resource to focus on responsible sourcing and environmental initiatives. Measuring and monitoring our environmental performance and impact are critical to improving our business performance, and HSM is now better positioned to support the business in these areas.

Responsible sourcing creates environmental, social and financial benefits to our hotels, and it’s important that it is integrated into company strategy and goals, business practices and decision-making to create long term value and transparency.

What are the main challenges facing large hotel corporations when it comes to sustainable sourcing?

Driving awareness and helping our owners better understand the business value and impact of responsible sourcing are two of the main challenges we see.

In addition, we face the task of educating buyers on the importance of sourcing sustainable products and services. There’s a perception that something that is environmentally friendly or socially impactful costs more money so it’s important that we look at the total cost of ownership of a product or service and consider the long term return on investment. Sourcing products that conserve and use less water and energy and are more efficient in the long term is vital.  Furthermore, we need to consider the type of packaging used and how the product is being transported.

We will be evaluating training opportunities for our HSM team so they have a good understanding of the importance of integrating these considerations in the decision-making process alongside other responsible sourcing criteria.

Another challenge we see as a global company is driving a responsible sourcing strategy that is globally applicable and locally relevant.  Suppliers might not have the ability to offer a product or service globally so we need to look at opportunities that will meet our overall objectives.

One of the key initiatives of the Responsible Sourcing Advisory Group was to update the company’s Global Responsible Sourcing Policy.  This Policy identifies the fundamental principles reflected in our Code of Conduct expected of our suppliers and business partners.  The Policy was recently rolled out to the HSM global team, and the next step will be defining and implementing a communication and education strategy for the global distribution of the policy to our suppliers, customers and business partners in 2015.

What challenges is Hilton Worldwide looking to address in 2015?

We will be identifying areas of greatest risk and developing a road map for action. Food and beverage, including food waste reduction and local sourcing (farm to fork) is one of the areas we will continue to focus on and look for ways to enhance our current offerings.

Tell us a bit about the BSR initiative?

Hilton Worldwide and BSR conducted research on Hilton’s supply chain and launched the CSP (Center for Sustainable Procurement) as a BSR initiative. Hilton Worldwide is currently a member of the CSP Procurement Leadership Group, which helps professionals better understand the value of sustainability in procurement.

Are there any other sustainable sourcing initiatives at Hilton Worldwide at the moment?

We will be increasing global awareness with regard to our sourcing of cage-free eggs and gestation crate-free pork.

Do you think there are going to be any key trends in sustainable sourcing in 2015?

Ethical and environmental responsibility and transparency will continue to be key areas to look at in the global food supply chain. Managing food waste will also be important. Food waste technology is not only good for the environment, but it also has financial benefits. In 2014 Hilton Worldwide introduced an organic food waste disposal and reduction system to our hotels. This technology disposes of food waste on site and converts the organic waste into environmentally safe water within 24 hours. This will be a huge opportunity and program for Hilton in 2015.

Click here for other articles about Hilton on Green Hotelier or see the latest Hilton Worldwide CSR report. Hilton Worldwide is a member of the International Tourism Partnership, which runs a Supply Chain working group to help improve the sustainable operations of its members.

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