Interview with William Latour - CHAO Hotel, Global Tourism Plastics Initiative
Interview with William Latour, Managing Director and Mentor of CHAO Hotel, China, on the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative
Question (Q): Why is sustainability important to you?
Answer (A): While it is urgent to save the planet, it is also well accepted that the solution is cooperative. If every effort counts towards tackling climate change, we feel an absolute necessity to contribute. It is also our duty to assure that our brand reflects the values and expectations of our audience and our responsibility to consider the impact of our choices on what surrounds us. CHAO is a young Chinese lifestyle brand active in Hospitality, Art and Culture. We appeal to a progressive population of urban individuals that is sensitive to environmental issues. It is therefore coherent to place sustainability at the core of our organisation.
Q: How did you address plastic pollution reduction in the conception phase of the hotel?
A: Simply by stopping « single use plastic » as the only solution and by looking for alternatives that would still provide superb guests experiences. In our sphere of luxury, a green attitude is chic.
Q: How did you adapt your menus to impact climate change?
A: While the priority is to offer the finest products, we favour proximity and sustainable sources. We look for the local best, first.
Q: How did you achieve carbon free transportation?
A: We selected a third party providing Electric Vehicles and encourage our Guests to choose this service. It enhances our reputation and gives us some competitive advantages when it comes to customer's choice. Being at the forefront of Sustainibility and Circular Economy for the last 6 years has helped us to establish ourselves as a brand that cares and a business that innovates.
Q: What competitive advantages have you gained in implementing the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative?
A: It has certainly improved our visibility on the domestic and international scene as well as our capacity to reach a larger audience.
Q: Where did you start from and what are your next steps to implement a circular economy of plastics?
A: We have been always sorting out waste to optimise recycling, yet we see opportunities to increase our efficiency in this area. We still have a lot to do to reduce our carbon footprint.
Q: Do you have an interesting example/project that you want to share with us?
A: On the occasion of Earth Day in April, we have replaced the common large bag used for the collection of garbage with a compostable corn base substitute that will prevent another 2 tons of plastic to end in landfill every year.
Q: What challenges have you been confronted with and how did you manage to overcome them?
A: In general, finding alternative to plastic is a strenuous exercise considering it remains the most common and cheap material available. We invest time and effort in developing effective solutions. Sustainability and Circular Economy demand dedication at all levels of the organisation. Being able to convince all stakeholders to support our initiative is critical.
Q: How did the COVID-19 crisis impact your ambitions?
A: Indeed we faced unprecedented challenges during the peak of the crisis, yet we did not detract much from our strategy. For example, when we launched a new protocol for the cleaning of our guest’s bedroom and public areas, we developed processes that were still aligned with our company’s ethos such as choosing washable cleaning fabric, eco-friendly chemicals, refillable containers etc.
Q: How do you engage with other actors along your value chains to implement the GTPI and sustainability measures?
A: We introduce the initiative to the lifestyle and business media and to various local platforms and environmental communities.
Q: How do you measure the impact of these changes?
A: By calculating the difference it makes, since the beginning we estimate having prevented the consumption of 9 tons of plastic, in addition and as mentioned earlier, the new garbage bags will save another 2 tons per year.
Q: What advice would you give to other SMEs to implement these ambitious goals?
A: Embark on the global effort, your clients will appreciate your contribution. It's worth the investment.
CHAO Hotel are signatories of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, and this interview has been conducted as part of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative newsletter, in partnership with Sustainable First. Click here to read more about their commitments, and here to read and sign-up to the newsletter.