With nearly 4,900 properties spanning 104 countries and territories, Hilton is one of the largest and fastest-growing hospitality companies in the world. The company has also launched numerous corporate responsibility initiatives that win trust and consumer confidence – benefiting employees, the environment and corporate earnings in the process. The hotelier demonstrates that sustainability improvements can result in both environmental victories and cost savings.
"Hilton has saved an estimated $751 million from water, waste, and energy-efficiency initiatives which have also resulted in a reduction of our carbon emissions by 23 percent in seven years," said Judy Pines, director of sustainability and responsible sourcing at Hilton. "We use a corporate responsibility performance management platform called LightStay to measure environmental and operational performance metrics."
The platform tracks ongoing progress, shares best practices among hotels, and highlights areas where properties can reduce their environmental impact through water-, waste- and energy-reduction projects. Hilton cut carbon emissions by 23 percent and decreased waste output by 29 percent in seven years. In 2016, the LightStay platform was recognized as Environment Leader's 2016 Product of the Year.
Mattress recycling, donating soap and surplus food, and composting food waste helped achieve these waste-reduction results. And these same efforts also cut costs. Pines cited a 50 percent cost reduction from recycling mattresses instead of landfilling them.
Although California has a law that mandates the recycling of mattresses and box springs purchased in the state, Hilton has gone far beyond legal requirements in some states.
“Hilton has recycled 8,100 mattress and box spring pieces, totaling 432,000 pounds of waste, over the last several months,” Pines explained.
“This initiative has spanned many states, including Tennessee, California, New York and North Carolina. Hilton is committed to reducing waste generated by our properties, and programs such as mattress recycling allow us to deliver against that commitment.”
Mattresses consist primarily of steel, foam, wood and fibers. Once dissembled, up to 95 percent of the mattress and box spring components can be recycled. The steel can be repurposed to create construction materials, auto parts and tools; fibers can be repurposed into oil filters and pillow or furniture upholstery stuffing; and foam can be repurposed into carpet padding. The wood from the box springs finds new life as pressed wood products and tempered flooring.
And through partnerships with organizations like Clean the World, Hilton has recycled over 1 million pounds of soap into over 5 million new bars to reduce hygiene-related illnesses within communities in need. Hilton's program is already the largest soap recycling program in the industry with more than 1,600 hotels recycling soap around the world.
Hilton also stands out with numerous innovative corporate policies and practices that shape the company culture. The company provides benefits for all – hourly and salaried – employees, including parental leave, adoption assistance and GED assistance. Hilton has also hired more than 10,000 veterans, spouses and dependents in the last three years, reaching hiring targets two years ahead of schedule.
The company’s efforts are consistently recognized in Great Place to Work rankings across the globe, and most recently in the United States as number 26 on the 2017 Fortune 100 Best Place to Work list.
The benefits of Hilton's corporate social responsibility initiatives go far beyond cutting costs, boosting employee retention rates, and minimizing the amount of waste sent to landfills. Hilton's initiatives help earn trust and create a dependable brand. The hospitality industry relies heavily on creating a positive guest experience for customers across the globe. Creating a strong corporate culture that embodies environmental and social values helps enrich the Hilton brand.
Image Credit: Hilton
Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.