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Plastic Free July and champions of year-round sustainability in hospitality


Short-term awareness campaigns such as Plastic Free July can really help businesses and individuals re-evaluate their relationship with single use plastic and other forms of non-recyclable waste. But we need much more from businesses if we are to achieve net-zero in the events industry by 2050. There are  already great businesses striving to go that step further and implement year-round sustainability initiatives in hospitality…

1. Ascot – Educating consumers and staff alike

Welcoming hundreds of thousands of guests every year, Ascot Racecourse is committed to reducing its environmental impact on every scale . One way it achieves its sustainability goals is by tackling plastic waste through education on proper waste segregation and via several partnerships with suppliers that support their ban on single-use plastics and responsible recycling.

Ascot has removed single use plastic sitewide investing in a re-cup initiative that sees more than 500,000 cups washed and reused annually. They have also partnered with Harrogate Water to implement a closed-loop plastic bottle scheme which means that all plastics and waste cardboard are recycled into other reusable materials and products, contributing to 0% waste to landfill.

During Royal Ascot 2023 and 2024, sustainability champions were employed to assist guests in sorting their waste into the correct bins. Meanwhile it utilised its partnership with Grundon Waste Management, which handles Ascot’s waste and recycling sitewide, by inviting Grundon’s waste experts to train their staff on the importance of segregation for successful recycling and practical implementation methods.

As a current finalist for this year’s Sustainability Award for Venues in the Conference & Events Awards, Ascot Racecourse serves as a great example of how hospitality businesses of all sizes can make an impact with educational sustainability initiatives and clever partnerships.

2. Clean the World: Third party support for year-round sustainability in hospitality

As touched upon above, not all sustainability initiatives have to start in-house. Using a third party can really help businesses transition their operations into a more environmentally friendly practice, and with quicker results. For example, Clean the World is a social enterprise dedicated to diverting soap bars and plastic amenities used in hotels from landfills, repurposing them into new products. Working across the world with hotels such as Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott, Clean the World has successfully collected over four million kg of plastic and diverted 12 million kg of waste from landfills.

This highlights the transformative potential of hospitality businesses partnering with established independent sustainability initiatives tailored to their sector. Interested hotel teams can learn more about Clean the World’s Global Recycling Programme here or at the Independent Hotel Show in October.

Director of Clean the World UK since 2021, Tommie Eaton orchestrates relationships with key hospitality partners to revolutionise waste management through the social enterprise’s bathroom amenities recycling programme. As an advocate for the implementation of the circular economy, Tommie passionately speaks on sustainability and in 2022 delivered a TedxTalk on “How to Create a Circular Waste-Free World“. Tommie also founded the brand BambuuBrush, selling 3m+ sustainable solutions to replace plastic toothbrushes.

Other independent sustainability initiatives found within the hospitality industry include The Sustainable Restaurant Association which provides chefs and restaurateurs with the tools to improve their sustainability credentials and Global Green Events which helps event venues and organisers alike.

3. The Corner London City: A big patchwork of small initiatives

Renowned as one of London’s greenest hotels, The Corner London City integrates sustainability into every aspect of its operations. From water-saving rain showers and energy-efficient lighting to locally sourced ingredients, the hotel’s environmental commitment is unwavering.

This hotel doesn’t wait for Plastic free July to reduce its plastic consumption, rather, it has long banished plastic bottles from its site, year-round. Instead of using plastic water bottles, it provides glass bottles of filtered water in its guest rooms. The glass bottles are then cleaned, sanitised, and refilled on the property. Equally, organic toiletries are provided in reusable containers. These are easily replicable initiatives which bars, restaurants, hotels and venues can implement to drastically reduce plastic waste.

Additionally, The Corner also focuses on local issues, not just global ones. Recently, they introduced a rooftop beehive, complete with a queen bee and a resident beekeeper, to foster local biodiversity and support Britain’s struggling bee population. Simple initiatives such as this which improve the local biodiversity is another simple yet direct way that businesses can bolster their environmental commitment.