by Keith Loria
Hilton Worldwide has long been committed to sustainability. In fact, over the last decade, the company has reduced its carbon emissions and waste by 30% and its energy and water consumption by 20%, helping to save more than $1 billion in operating efficiencies.
In May, Hilton made another strong commitment to the cause, aligning with the Paris Climate Agreement and becoming the first major hotel chain to release science-based targets for reducing carbon emissions, according to the company.
This is just the latest initiative by the global hotel chain, which in 2011 launched Travel With Purpose, a global corporate responsibility commitment that the company claims focuses on creating shared value and provides a cohesive, yet flexible framework to guide the activities of its business across all of its regions, brands and hotel properties.
Max Verstraete, Hilton’s head of corporate responsibility, said the company knew it had accomplished big things ever since launching Travel With Purpose, and its recent global conversations were all revolving around the framework of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
“As we looked the last couple of years to align efforts to the SDGs, we looked at our platform and wanted to refresh it and launch these commitments as a company. What made the most sense was to align our efforts to the 2030 agenda and show how we believe as a company we can contribute to those goals,” he told Hotel Interactive®. “It was important for us to align. We just believe that was a leading way to calculate the efforts we need to accomplish around climate change.”
Hilton’s new 2030 goals consist of a number of important environmental and social targets. It starts with a commitment to cut the environmental impact by 50% to protect the planet and reduce its carbon emissions by 61% in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).
“We understand we have to keep the temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius to avoid catastrophic climate change and we believe it’s in our best interest as a company and the community we call home,” Verstraete said. “Ever since Conrad Hilton founded the company, he had a vision to make the world a better place and bring in world peace through travel and tourism. Helping the community is in our DNA and mission and stems from the beginning of the company nearly 100 years ago.”
Other targets by Hilton include reducing water consumption and produce waste by half; sustainably sourcing meat, poultry, produce, seafood and cotton; removing plastic straws from its managed properties (which adds up to more than 10 million annually); and expanding its existing soap recycling program with the goal of eventually sending no soap to landfills.
“We have distributed nearly 7 million recycled soap bars to communities in need, and we’re committed to continuing to send zero to landfills in the future,” Verstraete said. “We’re also looking into banning the use of plastic water bottles, and have already begun, which in China represents 13 million bottles alone. We have close to 1,500 hotels recycling all amenity bottles as well.”
Hilton has also committed to doubling its investment in local initiatives across the globe, including sourcing from local and minority-owned suppliers, and programs to empower women and youth.
“When you look at the youth efforts to date, and ever since we launched our Open Doors commitments in 2014 (a global commitment that aims to impact at least one million young people by 2019 by helping them to reach their full potential), we are looking at how we can double that investment especially in countries with the lowest youth well being,” Verstraete said.
“In 2017, we launched the second version of the Global Youth Well Being Index as part of our goal to connect, prepare and employ youth by 2019.”
Hilton looks to create strong partnerships with local organizations, providing employee opportunities in its hotels and supply chain and bridging the gap on life skills. By 2030, Hilton looks to double its investment, providing more grants, working with more organizations and going into new countries to provide opportunities.
As further part of its commitment to drive positive change in the community, Hilton will contribute 10 million volunteer hours through Team Member initiatives; increase its monetary support for natural disaster relief efforts by 50%; and advance human rights capabilities in its value chain to eradicate forced labor and trafficking.