WHAT IS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY?
Looking beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital.
It is built on three principles:
Designing out waste & pollution
Keeping products & materials in use
Regenerating natural systems
OUR DEPENDENCE ON THINGS
How much do we consume?
Have you ever asked where your products come from? How many resources are required to generate the multitude of “things” we have in our daily lives? We’re very comfortable with a system that extracts from the environment and creates a product with short lifespan, which ultimately gets thrown away at the end of its use. We take, consume and waste more than our planet can support.
Take for example plastics – since its use at an industrial scale starting only in the 1950s, an estimated 6.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste have been produced with only 9% recycled and 79% ending up in landfills or the natural environment. More specifically, an estimated 8 million metric tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year.
REDESIGNING THE MODEL
ONE PROPOSED SOLUTION IS WORKING TOWARDS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY. CIRCULAR ECONOMIES FOCUS ON THE RETENTION OF VALUE IN THE MATERIAL CYCLE THROUGH REUSING AND RECYCLING MATERIALS SUCH AS PLASTICS TO PREVENT THEIR RELEASE INTO THE ENVIRONMENT.
Circular economies focus on the retention of value in the material cycle through reusing and recycling materials such as plastics to prevent their release into the environment.
A linear economy turns natural resources into base materials and products through a series of value-adding steps and is driven by ‘bigger-better-faster-safer’ syndrome.
HOW WE BRING A CIRCULAR ECONOMY TO IBEROSTAR
AT IBEROSTAR, WE HAVE OUTLINED A ROADMAP FOR BECOMING WASTE FREE BY 2025 AND CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2030.
Iberostar’s commitment to responsible tourism and the protection of our oceans is the backbone of our Wave of Change movement. We believe a restorative and regenerative circular economy in all operations are foundational to global ocean health and resilient business. Thus, Iberostar presents its roadmap for restorative and regenerative sourcing, use and end-use of the water, energy, and products in its built and surrounding environments - our hotels and the nature they depend upon.
By 2025, we commit to becoming waste free. As part of this goal, Iberostar will ultimately send no waste to landfill by ensuring the reduction, reuse and recycling of all physical products that enter its facilities. Iberostar also commits to embodying a circular economy by sourcing increasing proportions of non-virgin (not from primary natural sources) materials and considering the end-use of the materials it uses, from construction to cleaning supplies.
By 2030, we commit to becoming carbon neutral in our operations. As part of this goal, Iberostar will increase energy efficiency in its operations, source maximal amounts of renewable energy, and move towards electric powered operations over fossil-fuel. Iberostar will include in its corporate offsetting emissions from scope 1 and 2 and eventual scope 3 emissions (to be developed).
For any remaining carbon footprint, Iberostar will offset at a minimum 75% of its emissions with nature-based solutions in its commitment to coastal health.
In addition, we commit to continuous work on restorative and regenerative natural systems in the places where we operate. This includes considering the sourcing, efficiency and treatment of water resources as well as a clear commitment to nature based solutions to ensure the continued ecosystem services in our destinations.
Certain metrics allow us to track progress towards our time-bound quantitative goals, for example the kg of waste we are sending to landfill or the total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) of our Scope 3 emissions. A subset of metrics affiliated with our objectives in a circular economy are detailed here. These metrics are reported directly to Iberostar’s executive committee for tracking.
In order to make procedural or operational changes to achieve our global goals, we have a suite of metrics that allow us to optimize our decision making process to achieve a circular economy. For example, this includes suites of sensors that determine energy consumption within sections of our hotel, or AI assisted technology to categorize and quantify the types of food waste produced during our food service.
Finally, we have a set of metrics that allow us to track the costs and benefits of these changes throughout the organization.
Education and awareness are core components of our roadmap across all aspects of Wave of Change. We consider these five key audiences: our employees, our clients, our providers, the general public, and the NGO/IGO/Academic community that provides guidance. For circular economy, our employees receive specialized training to enable procedural changes (for example, reducing energy consumption or segregating residuals correctly) and serve as ambassadors for our clients. Our clients experience the ways in which we believe circular economy makes a better product (quality and durable services) and learn ways to adopt a circular economy in their own daily lives which we hope turn into behaviors they bring home with them. Our providers learn and adapt alongside us to rethink the life cycles of products, energy and water for our operations. The general public engage with our educational resources about why a circular economy is important for tourism and for the planet. And our NGO, intergovernmental, and academic partners help synthesize best practices of a circular economy for the sector from the case examples at Iberostar.
Achieving a circular economy is impossible without changes throughout our entire supply chain and at the scale of our destinations. While we work first to implement changes within our own operations, we also aim to engage with our suppliers, other tourism industry players, and the broader global community to make consistent and incremental progress towards a circular economy. For example, Iberostar serves on the advisory board of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative or helped to develop the platform for metrics for circularity in hotels with Impulsa.
In addition to advising external roadmaps or commitments, we aspire to provide case examples and roadmaps for other tourism groups to adopt similar practices. This is realized through our reporting on progress towards goals, the creation and sharing of roadmaps, advisory on global commitments, as well as creating platforms for collective action for reform in the industry. This knowledge sharing and collective reform is critical to shift models across the supply chain and at the scale of destinations to achieve global goals of the sector.
We commit to reporting our annual progress towards our quantitative objectives and strategy to address gaps. We will continue to inform our guests of the ways in which a circular economy evolves their client experience. We also call openly to any questions regarding our strategy to be directed towards our team in our contact page.
Our commitment to a circular economy extends to the nature in which our operations depend. Work in this area will be further detailed in our roadmap for coastal health. Yet we use this section of the roadmap to ensure highest standards for any new investments or constructions. Here, we apply principles of circular economy from the very design of the facility to make major improvements on the sourcing, use and end use of the water, energy and products per our new constructions.
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