Why sustainability is important in the hospitality industry

Learn why sustainability is crucial in the hospitality industry, and how adopting eco-friendly practices can benefit your business and the environment. Discover actionable tips and best practices to implement sustainable strategies in your hotel, restaurant or cafe.
Jamie Frew
Dec 2023
4 min read

The theme of Earth Day this year is Restore our Earth.

So, we’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability in the hospitality industry, and how we can have a positive impact on the planet.

We recently took a pledge to achieve carbon net-zero and plant 500,000 trees by 2030.

And we’re encouraging other hospitality businesses to do the same. Below we explore why sustainability is important in hospitality and how businesses take action to reduce their carbon footprint.

Why sustainability is important in the hospitality industry

In the UK, 75% of carbon emissions are from businesses and hospitality is one of the biggest emitting sectors.

Sustainability practices in the hospitality industry need to be prioritised, starting with addressing the following key issues:

Food waste

If food waste was a country, it would be the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the U.S. and China.

Hospitality businesses have a big part to play in all this waste. According to WRAP—a leading sustainability charity—our sector throws away 900,00 tonnes of food waste every year, costing businesses £2.5 billion per year. And costing our planet.  

Single-use plastic

The hospitality industry relies on single-use plastics—straws, packaging and bottles—for takeaways.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen businesses using even more plastics due to Covid health concerns and a massive spike in demand for deliveries.

Paper production

Paper production is one of the biggest contributors to deforestation. In addition to packaging, many hospitality businesses still rely on paper to run their operations—checklists, audits and disposable menus.

Energy consumption

Restaurants use up to 10 times more energy than other commercial businesses—kitchen appliances and equipment are in constant use, and heating and lighting is often on all day to keep customers comfortable.


On average, food travels 1500 miles. That’s a whole lot of greenhouse gas emissions.

To prevent these issues from escalating,  hospitality businesses need to take action.

Why hospitality businesses need to act now

We can make a difference, but that can only happen if we work together—governments, NGOs, individuals and businesses.

• Government regulations: the government is committed to being “net zero” by 2050. So there’s pressure on businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.

• Consumer demand: it’s not just the government turning up the heat; consumers—especially Millennials and Gen Z’s—are demanding businesses address climate change.

• Business benefits: minimising waste and energy usage is not only good for the environment, it helps cut operating costs too.  

How hospitality businesses can reduce their environmental impact

1. Manage food waste

You can avoid food waste with efficient stock management. Try using an inventory management system like Simple Order or MarketMan to reduce over-ordering and stay on top of stock levels.

If you’re still ending up with food waste, you could partner with Too Good to Go to sell surplus food to customers for a third of the price. That way, you prevent food from going to landfill and improve sustainability in the hospitality industry. Plus, you make money and your customers get to enjoy your food. Win-win-win!

2. Minimise carbon miles

Use local suppliers or seasonal produce to minimise your carbon trail. As well as being good for the planet, using fresh, in-season produce is better quality and cheaper. Plus, you support local farmers and invest back in your community.

3. Use energy-efficient appliances

Try switching to energy-efficient appliances—even a simple switch like changing to LED light bulbs makes a big difference. While there may be an upfront fee, the savings on your future energy and water bills will offset those costs.

4. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Where possible, ditch the single-use plastics. There are loads of reusable or recyclable alternatives—like Vegware and Biopak.

5. Go paperless

The pandemic has accelerated digital adoption in the hospitality industry. So there’s never been a better time to ditch the paper and embrace digital tools.

You could use a POS system, like Zettle or Nobly, to send digital receipts. And save paper by moving your menu online with Lightspeed.

Or use a digital checklist tool (like Trail 😉) to run your operations online and save tonnes (literally tonnes) of paper from going to waste.

Bill’s save 100 sheets of paper every month from switching to Trail. 100 sheets of paper = 1% of a tree. So Bill’s so far has saved 34 trees from being used for unnecessary paper checks.

Our carbon statement integration also provides weekly energy usage and carbon reporting, highlighting areas where you’re wasting energy.

BrewDog customer testimonial

What customers are saying

"I f****** love Trail, it's taking my businesses to the next level."
Josh Paterson
"We rarely provide training to our guys, they just bought into the idea straight away. I love that I have a full visual of everyone's activity in front of me."
Katrin Toots
Compliance Manager
“It’s not a paper diary that’s covered in barbecue sauce. We have clarity over what’s done in our sites and are confident going into our audits.”
Jay Brown
“The EHO visited almost every site last year and every store was given a five star rating."
Jay Brown
Operations Chef
"We turned our Costa Checks and various compliance forms into regular tasks on Trail, which has contributed to some of the best scores we have had."
Delroy Daniels
Operations Director
"Our teams love it, it gives our managers of all levels absolute clarity on what they need to achieve every day."
James Brown
Operations Director

Rated 5/5 on