Mandarin Oriental Sets Energy, Emissions, Waste, and Water Reduction Targets


by | May 31, 2022

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The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has 34 luxury hotels in 24 countries. In 2012, it set out to make a lasting impact — sustainability-wise. The company has been striving to reduce its environmental footprint by setting bold energy, emissions, waste, and water targets. Its goal has been to reduce its overall footprint by 20–25% across these targets.

“We have faced some challenges related to waste management, as waste treatment and recycling capabilities vary between countries,” says the company’s 2020 Sustainability Report. “Water consumption has also been a challenging area in which we made considerable progress but again have been somewhat short of the original target, due to the addition of a number of water intense resort properties in recent years.” 

Among the challenges has been enduring COVID19 and its facilities were very much under-occupied. That led to substantial financial losses of US$206 million. And while the sustainability efforts had been in place long before the pandemic, the company says that those moves are saving it money. For example, it has better procurement practices, energy efficiency programs, and recycling.  

What are the specific goals, and what is the progress?

The focus has been on energy, emissions, water, and waste. It sought to cut its energy usage by 20% by 2020, and it met that goal. It wanted to reduce its emissions by 25% by 2020, and it surpassed that target by 2%. But it fell short in water and waste: it sought to reduce its water usage by 20% but did so by 16%. And it wanted to cut its waste by 25%, and it did so by 21%. 

In 2021, each hotel set new 5-and-10-year environmental performance targets. The Mandarin Oriental Group is now committed to halving its total emissions by 2035. 

In 2019, Mandarin Oriental sought to eliminate single-use plastics across its hotel portfolio by March 2021 — something it almost achieved: there was a 70% reduction in its annual plastic footprint, avoiding 930 tonnes of plastic waste each year. But it expects to make that goal this year. 

SustainCase did a review of the Mandarin. Hotel Group. It outlined two goals: Implementing a procurement policy and providing training. 

— The formal procurement strategy aims to improve sourcing practices. The policy includes a supplier code of conduct that its supply chain is expected to follow. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group also maintains a whistle-blower policy where employees and suppliers may report any concerns about malpractice.

— The training program gives hotel personnel the tools it to procure responsibly.

“From 2018 onwards, we have been advancing our procurement of responsible coffee, tea, vanilla, and cocoa, where our goal is to ethically source 100% of these items,” the report says. “The focus has now been expanded to include paper and seafood, where the goal is to 100% use sustainably certified corporate-use paper and to increase procurement of sustainable seafood.

“Due to the nature of our business, each of our hotels is responsible for managing their procurement needs locally, which can lead to challenges in procuring responsibly, particularly in developing markets,” it concludes. 

The Results

The company had to create a formal structure to oversee progress to achieve success. It is chaired by the top guy that holds a “sustainability leadership council” responsible for results. That council creates committees and working groups in the specific areas the company wants to see progress. 

The focus areas in 2020: develop guidance for energy, water, and waste management. Eliminate single-use plastics and identify responsible procurement practices in food and beverage. And develop guidance so that the entire hotel chain can become sustainable while also empowering “sustainability champions” at each location. So far:

— the elimination of 7.7 million plastic water bottles; 

— a 70% reduction in plastics footprint,

— broadened responsible sourcing commitments to include coffee, tea, cocoa, vanilla, paper, and seafood, 

— to recycle, reuse and repair. “In an average year, more than 3,500kg of used paper is recycled with the supplier, providing approximately 78 reams of recycled paper. The more paper is recycled, the greater the cost savings – reaping benefits not just for the environment but also the bottom line.”

— adopt solutions inspired by nature to reduce our energy and carbon footprint, which includes energy efficiency — a conversion to 100% LED lighting, and

— identify opportunities to increase the share of renewable energy used across our operations.

Plastics, or microplastics, which take hundreds of years to break down, have become omnipresent in our environment, food, and water. They pose adverse consequences for our wildlife, ecosystems, food supplies, and livelihoods. Mandarin Oriental has therefore taken a bold stance against single-use plastic and is implementing eco-alternatives which balance our requirements of safety, luxury, and sustainability,” says Christoph Mares, Chief Operating Officer. 

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