- Published on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 15:34
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Building on almost two decades of best-in-class performance in sustainable development, Accor is taking its commitment to sustainability to a higher level with the launch of Planet 21, a comprehensive sustainable development program involving environmental, social and community support programs.
How many times do guests forget to return their plastic room key-cards? Every day, thousands of key cards are inadvertently taken away by guests only to be thrown out, with no option for recycling. As part of Accor's launch of Planet 21, the group is introducing new key-cards, made from FSC-certified wood from responsibly managed forests that are not only as effective as their plastic counterparts but which breakdown naturally if disposed in landfill.
The new FSC-certified key-cards will debut at the first Planet 21 accredited hotels in Australia – the Pullman, Novotel and Ibis Hotels at Sydney Olympic Park and Sofitel Melbourne on Collins – from 21 April.
Planet 21 covers all of the group's environmental, social and community investment actions and aims to place sustainability at the core of its business strategy worldwide. Accor is making 21 commitments and the same number of quantified goals for the year 2015, including: a 15% reduction in water consumption, a 10% decrease in energy use and 85% use of eco-labelled products at Accor's owned and leased hotels worldwide.
The name Planet 21is a direct reference to Agenda 21, the environmental action plan signed by 173 heads of state at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and reminds us of the urgent concerns that face our planet in the 21st century and the need to change our methods of production and consumption patterns to ensure the sustainability of the planet.
To guarantee the credibility of the program, hotels can only use the Planet 21 messages if they comply with a certain level of sustainable development performance, assessed according to a list of 65 actions, or if they achieve an internationally recognised external environmental certification.
For instance, the Accor Sydney Olympic Park hotels are pioneers in terms of environmental sustainability. In 2011 (compared to 2010) the hotels achieved:
- 12.5% reduction in gas
- 9.2% reduction in electricity
- 2.2% reduction in use of potable water
- The Pullman's solar panels produced enough hot water to last 5.1 weeks annually
- The Novotel solar hot water system saved 595,000 Mj of gas.
To develop Planet 21, Accor commissioned two unprecedented international surveys to obtain comprehensive and objective information about its footprint and guest expectations. In 2011, the group carried out a study of its environmental footprint that enabled it to measure accurately its main impacts, define priorities for action and identify new challenges.
This work was preceded by a survey measuring the expectations of international hotel customers that showed that sustainable development is a growing selection criterion for both leisure and business customers. According to this survey, for example, 67% of leisure guests take sustainable development actions into account when choosing a hotel.
"At a time when the group is embarking on a phase of brisk expansion, with the aim of becoming the global leader in the hotel industry, we are reaffirming our commitment to responsible growth capable of generating shared value for all," said Denis Hennequin, chairman and chief executive officer of Accor. "With the Planet 21 program, we are putting sustainable hospitality at the core of the group's strategy, development and innovation. I am convinced that sustainable development will lead us towards a new business model. Planet 21will provide a fantastic driver of competitiveness for our brands, attractiveness for our customers and partners and loyalty for our employees."
Since 1994, when Accor first established its Environment Department, the group has adopted numerous solutions to contribute to the development of local communities, reduce water and energy consumption and limit the environmental footprint of its hotels. With Planet 21, Accor is reinforcing its determination to put sustainable development at the heart of its activities: 21 commitments that involve customers, partners and employees in order to improve Accor's sustainability performance.
For these reasons, the new Planet 21 strategy includes a program to engage customers, inviting them to contribute to the hotels' actions and achievements. From making a reservation to staying and or dining in Accor hotels, customers will discover a rich and diverse array of messages that will encourage them to contribute actively to the hotel's actions through a few simple gestures. The tone of the messages will be friendly and thoughtful, aimed at inspiring customers to participate.
In addition, Accor will actively engage its hotel owners to bring more franchised and managed hotels into the Planet 21 program – improving their sustainability performance and developing buildings that are constructed and operated in accordance with internationally recognised sustainability best practice. Accor will also share its commitments with suppliers, working with them to develop more sustainable products and services.
With the launch of Planet 21, Accor is also deepening its focus on preserving the ecosystems in which its hotels operate. A pioneer in reforestation, since 2008 Accor has financed the planting of over two million trees worldwide through its Plant for the Planet program. The program quantifies savings to laundry costs resulting from guests' reuse of towels, with Accor hotels committing to plant a tree for every five towels reused. Plantations have been established around the world by the United Nations One Billion Tree Program, with Australian hotels (in association with Greening Australia) contributing towards the reforestation of the banks of the Wollondilly River outside Sydney.