Every year on Earth Day, Accor’s 180,000 employees worldwide organize actions to support the 21 commitments protected in CHARTER 21 – the group’s sustainable development program – and share their environmental achievements and progress. Inspired by Agenda 21, which was adopted by 173 Heads of State at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, CHARTER 21 is an action plan with the principle goal of protecting the planet, its people and their environment.
Arnaud Herrmann, Accor’s Sustainable Development Director, explains: “Results for 2014 showed global improvement and progress made on all of Accor’s commitments under the CHARTER 21 program. That is encouraging for 2015. I’m most proud of the creation of our Ethical and Corporate Social Responsibility Committee that will strengthen our corporate responsibility in terms of management ethics, integrity and compliance with the law.”
Introduced in 2012, CHARTER 21 aims to sustainably reinvent hotels, and is structured around 21 commitments via seven pillars: health, nature, carbon, innovation, local, employment, and dialogue.
Some highlights of the CHARTER 21 progress in 2014 include:
- Water: -5.6% in water consumption since 2011 (owned and managed hotels)
How: Serving 56 million breakfasts a year on average, Accor embarked on a new collaborative venture with Bridor, a leader in bakery and pastry products, to reduce the environmental footprint of the baguettes and croissants it produces. Improvements in the manufacturing process have enabled the company to reduce its electricity and water consumption by 10% and 30% respectively in three years.
- Energy: -4.5% in energy consumption and -3.8% in CO2 emissions since 2011 (owned and managed hotels)
How: The Carbon Optimizer introduced by Accor in 2012 enables B2B clients to reduce the carbon footprint of their meetings and conventions. The online tool used by sales teams calculates the carbon footprint of a convention on the basis of the number of participants, the length of their stay and their catering choices – resulting in sizable drops in energy consumption and CO2 emission.
- Waste: Almost 90% of Accor hotels recycle their waste.
How: Accor participates in the “Soap For Hope” operation, with used soaps collected and recycled by Diversey, the group’s main supplier of eco-label cleaning products. Reconstituted and repackaged, the soap is distributed to underprivileged communities or resold to Accor hotels as welcome gifts for guests. In North America, Sofitel properties collect used bars of soap for donation to the Global Soap Project, and used shampoo, conditioner and lotion bottles for the Rock and Wrap it Up! Program.
HotelInvest commits to greener buildings
In 2014 Accor’s asset management division strengthened its commitment to sustainable construction by choosing systematic certification according to environmental and energy performance standards (LEED, BREEAM, HQE) for owned hotels built as of 2015. To date, 11 buildings have been certified in five countries, including the Mercure Kraków City Center, the first BREEAM-certified hotel in Poland, opening in 2016. Moreover, nearly 300 hotels use renewable energies, including the Olympic Park hotel complex in Sydney that is equipped with electricity and hot water production systems that harness solar energy.
Plant For The Planet: More than 150 Sites Planted in 21 Countries
Over the past seven years Accor has planted four million trees and generated €13 million ($USD 14 million) in laundry savings, of which half was reinvested in over 150 reforestation projects. To roll out this program, Accor tapped the expertise of Tristan Lecomte, Founder of Alter Eco and Pur Projet, and a specialist in developing community forestry projects.
Lecomte explains, “Plant for the Planet is based on a simple principle: Guests staying for more than one night in a hotel are invited to reuse their bath towels. By reducing the volume of towels laundered, this practice conserves water, energy and detergent, and the savings help finance reforestation or agro-forestry projects that directly address issues at stake in the areas located near the hotels.”
Accor will be submitting the comprehensive “Tree Resolution” at its Shareholders Meeting on April 28, 2015. With a goal of planting 10 million trees by 2021, the hope is to bring shareholders on board to step up the Plant for the Planet program.
In 2011, Accor launched CHARTER 21 Research, a shared knowledge platform on sustainable development in the industry. The platform is both free and open to all in order to improve the integration of sustainable development by all players in the hotel industry. Accor regularly enriches the platform with the results of new surveys, research and case studies.