Thailand's Centara Hotels & Resorts is focusing on three key sustainability initiatives as part of the company’s 2019 Sustainability Plan: eliminating single-use plastic products; reducing its food waste footprint; and expanding its support of local farming and produce-growing communities.
The elimination of single-use plastic items is part of the “Centara Earth Care” programme 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 centre and poolside plastic bottles, and plastic guest room amenities. They are being replaced with items made from materials designed to minimise environmental impact.
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 bio-degradable plastics, will be fully phased in by year-end.
Phase I, targeting 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, eliminating 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.
Centara’s new and continuing food-related sustainability initiatives include: further reducing food waste and minimising 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; 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 kilogrammes (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 30-100 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.
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% of total produce purchases from local sources.
The company’s ongoing engagement with EarthCheck continues to yield 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 programme, leading to significant reductions in carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions across a number of Centara’s Certified properties.