Novotel Reading hailed as pioneer as AccorHotels updates sustainability scheme

By Hannah Thompson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Novotel Reading hailed as pioneer Accor updates sustainability scheme

Related tags: Recycling

The 178-bedroom Novotel Reading Centre hotel in Berkshire has been hailed by AccorHotels as a UK pioneer in its company-wide sustainability scheme Planet 21, as the company announces the programme’s 2016-2020 objectives.

The originally French company – which operates 3,900 hotels across over ten brands in 92 countries ‒ first launched its Planet 21 scheme in 2011. The 2016-2020 objectives will now be structured into four areas of action: employees, customers, partners, and local communities; and two priorities: food and beverage, and buildings.  

First began as Charter 21, and now renamed to Planet 21 in Action, the scheme aims to offer a flexible sustainability programme tailored to individual hotels.

To reach the minimum “bronze” level, each property must take part in 16 actions. To go to the higher silver, gold or platinum levels, the hotels can then choose the activities they would like to implement from a wider range, and encourages both employees and guests to be accountable for their social and environmental responsibility.

Novotel Reading Centre is one of 11 UK hotels to achieve gold status, and former general manager Jacqui McMillan – who sits on the Planet 21 head office committee ‒ and current general manager Anne Dubruille, have been credited with motivating staff and guests to help them make an environmental difference.

Friendly cards in bedrooms reminding guests about turning off lights, sorting and recycling waste, and asking guests to reuse towels and bedding during their stay are the hotel’s main successful initiatives.

Guests were also encouraged to use the stairs instead of the lift; local ingredients were used for breakfast; and staff were both invited to a recycling plant to understand what happens to the hotel’s waste, as well as receiving awareness tutoring on child abuse and sex trafficking.

Across the entire group, by 2020 the scheme aims to produce 30% less food waste, 100% low-carbon new buildings and renovations for existing owned and leased properties, and 1,000 urban vegetable gardens in its hotels.

Accor also said that from 2011 to 2015, it had delivered two thirds of its 21 objectives, and that over 90% of its hotels had embarked on an improvement drive. It added that water consumption had been cut by nearly 9%, energy consumption by 5.3% and carbon emissions by 6.2%.

All hotels were also said to have committed to the in-house child protection awareness programme, WATCH, and enabled the planting of 4.5 million trees worldwide since 2009.

Sébastien Bazin, the group’s chairman and chief executive, said: “After five years, the results of the first phase of the plan are very encouraging. Today, we want to scale up our ambitions by banking on innovation and accountability. Planet 21 Season 2 must enable us to create wealth sustainably and curb our negative impacts through the mobilisation of our employees, guests, partners and local communities.”

Of the Novotel Reading Centre’s approach, McMillan said: “We’re not forcing guests to do anything but giving them the chance to make a difference. It’s very, very popular.”

AccorHotels is a global hotel operator and franchiser, with a portfolio including luxury brands Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery by Sofitel and Grand Mercure; midscale names Novotel, Mercure and Adagio; and budget groups ibis, ibis Styles and Hotel F1. 

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