ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN HOTELS
Environmental management in hotels
David Kirk The hospitality industry exposes many of the conflicts which arise when implementing environmental policies Introduction Initially, concern about the environment was related to those industries which caused direct pollution of the environment through their effluents and discharges. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, environmental pressures have come to affect a wider range of industries until now most industries are affected. At the same time, the concern has now become much broader, relating not only to outputs of the operation but to the whole system, including inputs and processes[1, p. 14]. The hospitality industry is an interesting case in that it exposes many of the conflicts which arise when implementing environmental policies. First, many hotels and restaurants are situated in areas of outstanding natural beauty, in historic cities and in areas with a delicate ecological balance. The addition of new hospitality facilities may attract visitors to areas which already suffer from too much tourism. For this reason there are often serious planning constraints when developing a new hospitality facility. Second, many of the customers who seek hospitality services do so expecting to be pampered, with lashings of hot water, high-pressure showers, freshly laundered linen, an ample supply of towels, copious supplies of food and drink, the availability of swimming pools and saunas and the limousine to take them to the airport. Clearly, whatever is done to reduce waste can only be done either with the consent of the customers or in such a way that they do not notice any deterioration of service. Third, the customer visits the location of the hospitality operation, which is fixed by customers’ needs and therefore cannot always be sited where there will be minimized effect from traffic, cooking smells and the noise of the disco. This local environmental pollution may not be an issue on the scale of those considered by the Rio International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 7 No. 6, 1995, pp. 3-8 © MCB University Press Limited, 0959-6119
Conference, but it does affect people’s attitudes towards the industry. The hospitality industry is not one which causes gross environmental pollution nor does it consume vast amounts of non-renewable resources and therefore it may not be in the front line for environmental concern. It is made up of a large number of small operations, each of which consumes relatively small amounts of energy, water, food, paper and other resources, and each of which adds only a small amount of pollution to the environment in terms of smoke, smell, noise and chemical pollutants. However, if the impact of all of these small individual operations is added together the industry does have a significant effect on global resources. This is the dilemma – how can we persuade companies involved in the hospitality industry (many of them small independent operators) to take environmental management seriously? Will the push of legislation, the pull of consumer pressure groups, together with the financial savings which can result from reducing waste, force all companies to take environmental management seriously? This article reviews some of the developments within the industry as examples of responsible environmental management, and investigates some of the attitudes of managers involved in the hotel industry in the city of Edinburgh. The main themes for discussion are: q What is the balance between global policies and local action? q How are general concerns translated into individual action? q How much will companies contribute to the “cost” of protecting the environment? These last two points are particularly difficult to answer in the case of small operations, such as are the majority of hotels and restaurants. Many individual operations may feel that they are too small to have any real effect, that these services...
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David Kirk is Professor and Head of Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh, UK.
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