BANGKOK—Centara Hotels & Resorts, Thailand’s leading hotel operator, is focusing on three key sustainability initiatives as part of the company’s recently announced 2019 Sustainability Plan: eliminating single-use plastic products; reducing its food waste footprint; and expanding its support of local farming and produce-growing communities.
No Single-Use Plastic Products by End-2019
The elimination of single-use plastic items is part of the “Centara Earth Care” program aimed at encouraging hotel guests and tourists to be proactive about energy saving, waste reduction and sustainable environmental tourism. The sustainability plan covers five types of single-use plastic items, including drinking straws, laundry bags, take-away food containers, fitness center and poolside plastic bottles, and plastic guestroom amenities. They are being replaced with items made from materials designed to minimize environmental impact.
“Centara strives to operate ethically and sustainably in a balanced manner across the entire portfolio whilst providing an exceptional level of Thai hospitality,” said Thirayuth Chirathivat, CEO. “We are committed to selecting environmentally friendly produce which, in turn, enables us to further incorporate sustainable strategies and development into our products and services, creating shared value at an environmental, social and economic level wherever we operate. We are also committed to ensuring a respectful, safe and healthy environment to the larger society and our future generations.”
Centara began phasing in its elimination of single-use plastic products in 2018 across all 39 of its operating properties. Under the plan, alternative products which are reusable and made from environmentally friendlier materials, including plant-based, compostable and biodegradable plastics, will be fully phased in by year-end.
Phase I will target the elimination of plastic straws, began in August 2018. The single-use plastic straws being eliminated take up to 200 years to decompose; the new bio-straws replacing them decompose within six months. Once the change is fully enacted throughout all Centara properties, the reduction in plastic straw consumption will total nearly 2.2 million straws per year.
Phase II will eliminate the use of plastic laundry bags, began in December 2018. Moving forward, these practices will also become Centara’s standards for all existing and new properties.
Food Waste Reduction
Centara’s new and continuing food-related sustainability initiatives include:
- further reducing food waste and minimizing each property’s carbon footprint with expanded purchasing of fresh local foods from herb, fruit and vegetable growers;
- making same-day donations of surplus food to charities located near each property;
- providing local farms with pre-separated organic waste for composting; and
- transforming waste at select properties into biogas fuel, a blend of mostly methane and carbon dioxide gases which can be used in place of fossil fuels.
In 2018, Centara supported the Bangkok-based foundation Scholars of Sustenance (SOS Thailand) by making same-day donations of more than 28,000 kilograms (kg) of quality surplus food. The donations provided over 86,000 servings to those in need, while the reduction in Centara’s food waste saved over 54,000 kg of GHG equivalent emissions.
Both Centra by Centara Maris Resort Jomtien and Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket have biogas machines on-site capable of converting 30 to 100 kg of organic waste each day into an equivalent number of litres of organic compost and biogas comparable to nearly five kg/day of LPG fuel. Since July 2018, the Cowtec Composting & Biogas Production Machine installed at Centra by Centara Maris Resort Jomtien has been processing organic waste from the property’s kitchens, staff canteens and landscaping works. By the end of 2018, the machine had composted more than 5,700 kg of organic waste and produced 262 kg of biogas equivalent LPG.
Strengthen Local Communities
Centara’s 2019 Sustainability Plan further expands the company’s support for local communities’ small farms and producers who grow food for Centara hotels and resorts in their area.
The company attributes much of its carbon footprint reduction to making approximately 70 percent of total produce purchases from local sources. Beyond the economic benefits to the community, expanding farm-to-table dining enables each property to provide the freshest available food items to guests.
The company’s ongoing engagement with EarthCheck, a leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism, continues to yield consequential improvements in key sustainability metrics. To date, 15 Centara hotels and resorts have achieved EarthCheck certification and another four properties are enrolled in EarthCheck’s Evaluate Plus program, leading to significant reductions in carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions across several of Centara’s certified properties.
Most recently, the company’s leadership in environmental sustainability was recognized by the Stock Exchange of Thailand, which awarded Centara Hotels & Resorts (CENTEL) its “Thailand Sustainability Investment (THSI)” designation, an annual recognition for listed companies that operate with responsibility for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) aspects.
Further recognition for properties includes the “Green Hotel 2018 Award” from the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion at Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, awarded to Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin and Centra by Centara Maris Resort Jomtien.