Increasing commitment to sustainability

From reducing energy and water use to eliminating single-use plastics and food waste, hotels are taking active steps to protect the environment and champion responsible business and tourism.

In 2022, the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) launched a new sustainability roadmap. In the roadmap, they identified four focus areas to green hotel operations, to ensure that sustainability efforts drive impactful environmental outcomes. These areas are water conservation, waste management, recycling and circular economy, sustainable sourcing and procurement as well as energy conservation.

In Thailand, more than 500 hotels have signed the pledge to eliminate single-use plastic and promote local culture one year after launching the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge. UNESCO also commissioned a study to look further into what natural products and traditional handicrafts made in Thailand could potentially upscaled to offer alternatives to single-use plastic products.

In this article, we highlight the sustainability measures taken by hotels in Asia to reduce their carbon footprint.

Food waste management

Food waste is one of the biggest waste streams in Singapore and the amount of food waste generated has grown by around 20% over the last 10 years. With the hospitality industry being one of the contributors of food waste, hotels are taking steps to reduce, redistribute and transform food waste.

Photo Credit: Grand Hyatt Singapore

Grand Hyatt Singapore is the first hotel in Singapore to have a food waste management system. The hotel owns a machine, called a Biomax Thermophilic Digester, which can process 1000kg of food waste per day and turn it into 300kg of organic fertilisers in 24 hours which then goes into fertilising the hotel’s rooftop garden.

Apart from reducing and recycling, many hotels are donating excess food to non-profit organisations which distributes them to the less privileged.

Eliminating single-use plastic

A single 200-room four-star hotel can use about 300,000 pieces of single-use plastic in a month if it is at full-capacity and does not invest in any eco-friendly alternatives, according to Eco-Business,

In 2019, the world’s largest hotel chain, Marriot announced to eliminate tiny, single-use toiletry bottles from its hotels worldwide. Within Asia Pacific, around 70% of Marriott hotels have implemented this initiative. Similarly, the Hilton hotel chain has removed plastic straws from its hotel operations, swapped plastic key cards to digital ones and eliminated water bottles from meetings and events hosted in the hotels.

In a global survey of 27,000 hotels in 2022, the Green Lodging Report found that 66% of hotels have eliminated the use of plastic straws and 47% of all hotels have replaced plastic water bottles offered to guests and staff with sustainable alternatives.

Local sourcing

Photo credit: PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay

PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay has one of the largest rooftop urban farms in Singapore’s Central Business District. The farm grows more than 60 varieties of edible herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables, supplying a stream of fresh produce and herbs to the hotel’s restaurants, cocktail bars and spa.

Governments are also recognizing the economic benefits of sourcing locally. The Cambodia Ministry of Tourism has established a working group to boost the production of agricultural goods and handicrafts for use by domestic restaurants and hotels. The government estimates that Cambodia loses between 300-400 million USD in revenue each year as local restaurants and hotels are not sourcing products locally.

Using renewable energy

Hotels are among the most energy-intensive buildings and the hotel industry alone accounts for around 1% of global emissions. Hotels and resorts are now stepping up their efforts to reduce energy consumption to deliver operational savings and to attract a young generation of tourists who prioritise sustainable travel.

With the government’s push for a Bio-Circular-Green economy model, Thailand’s Tourism Authority is encouraging local tourism businesses to adopt more sustainable practices. More hotels and are adopting renewable energy such as solar power as a supplementary energy source for their electricity needs.

Mariott is expanding its electric vehicle program across the region. Beyond mainland China, more than 100 EV charging units will be installed at Marriott hotels in India, Thailand and Indonesia.

Green Architecture

Another key component in sustainable hotel development starts from the design and construction phases such as using responsibly sourced timbre and growing native species.

Photo credit:

The Oasia Hotel Downtown in Singapore stands out with its unique silhouette covered by a lush green façade that is a massive vertical garden. This green façade is covered in 21 species of creeper plants arranged at different heights, with an additional 33 species of plants incorporated into its architecture. The hotel’s lobby has also been designed so that visitors are cooled by drafts of wind instead of air-conditioning.

As the demand for sustainable hotels continues to grow, it is likely that more hotels will adopt sustainable practices. Adopting sustainable practices can help to reduce the environmental impact of hotels, save hotels money, attract and retain guests, improve brand reputation, and comply with regulations.

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