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Towards Sustainable Business Practices

Sep 1, 2012 3:10:35 PM - thesundayleader.lk

Sena Peiris

Cinnamon Grand Colombo, in a move to enhance the sustainable processes that it has embraced, hosted a “Green Forum” recently together with the Switch-Asia programme to raise awareness amongst the hotel’s suppliers about doing business in a sustainable manner.
The seminar also focussed on the need for more sustainable and environmental friendly packaging.
Organised by the hotel’s Sustainability Division with the support of the newly-appointed Green Team, the event focused on the need of changing the traditional “profits only” mindset by enlightening stakeholders on the importance of “greening” their processes in order to supply environmentally-sustainable products and services. This is also in line with the hotel’s vision of becoming Colombo’s leading sustainable city hotel by 2015.
“Sustainability is not merely a buzz word that we should use for marketing purposes. We want to make a genuine effort and ensure  that the products and services that we produce and give our guests have been thought of and that we have taken into account the environmental, economic and social costs and benefits of these products,” asserted Cinnamon Grand’s ManagerMarketing, Communications and Sustainability Ms. Tharika Goonathilake.
“Our suppliers are this business’ backbone. They ensure that we get all the products and services that we give our customers. However, the traditional way of looking at things and looking at expense, profit and loss has to change.  Did you know that customers are asking questions of their suppliers beyond traditional ones involving cost, quality and delivery standards?  Today’s consumer is concerned about how the products are manufactured-where they come from, the products’ lifetime, how they are disposed of, how it affects the environment, benefits to the local communities and so on. Those are the challenges that we will have to face in the future and vital that we rethink the way we do business,” she added.
The forum was one of many programmes the hotel has hosted to engage and enlist the support of all the business’ stakeholders, whilst aligning them with Cinnamon Grand’s goal of becoming a sustainable corporate entity that walks the talk.
Furthermore, the hotel’s Sustainability Division believes that knowledge and awareness are vital to groom their supply chain into providing environmentally sustainable products and services.
“Everybody has realised the importance of the triple bottom line approach which expands the traditional business reporting framework to take into account the business’ environmental and social performance in addition to their financial performance. People, profits and planet have to be considered together before we make a decision. Without chasing after only profits as done previously, we need to be mindful of the environmental impact our actions will result in and how it will affect the society as a whole.We need to be accountable for our actions. Sustainability needs to be incorporated into businesses, needs to be evident and should have visibility,” emphasised Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Industry Technical Service Manager Saranga Karawita. National Cleaner Production Centre DirectorSena Peiris said that buyers are searching for safer and more sustainable solutions that in many cases their existing suppliers do not offer.  He said that consumers and buyers in the future will require more details on a product’s environmental footprint and this will soon be a prerequisite as much as a criterion for supply selection as much as  price.
“You don’t want to be locked out from being a supplier because you don’t adequately pay attention to sustainable means of doing business or manufacturing products that disregard environmental implications,” he said.  Peiris said that scientific insights and research into the efforts of creating sustainable products are available and that suppliers must look into these areas if they want to compete in the future markets.  The Greening Sri Lankan Hotels initiative comes under the Switch-Asia programme, a European Commission-funded project targeted at enhancing the environmental performance of Sri Lankan hotels through improvement of energy, water and waste management. Implemented by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the project is also backed by the Travel Foundation UK, the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority and the Sri Lanka Institute of Environmental Professionals.