AIHR - Guests on Earth: Circularity in Hotels
  • publication: 23 January 2020

AIHR - Guests on Earth: Circularity in Hotels

During the HORECAVA fair, on the 15th of January, a group of hoteliers from renowned hotels in Amsterdam presented the results of a project on circularity. This project has been set up by the Municipality of Amsterdam in an effort to lower the environmental impacts of hotels, and attract new customers more conscious about sustainability and cultural heritage. Professor Elena Cavagnaro supported the project by organizing for the Municipality of Amsterdam and the involved hotels a workshop on guests’ views about sustainability in hospitality. She was therefore invited to join the HORECAVA event.

Hereby a short summary of a very inspiring morning in which four hoteliers, all women, shared their experiences in getting hotel operations circular.

The first to speak was Inge van der Weert, GM of QO. Even though this hotel opened its doors recently, it is already an icon in Amsterdam due to its architecture. One amazing feature of QO’s architecture is its exterior. It is made up of a series of fully responsive thermal panels, that adapts and reacts to the climate outside the hotel, working as one or individually to control the temperature inside. Yet Inge van der Weert did not focussed on this amazing technology, but on F&B. She proudly announced that QO is a member of the New Dutch Cuisine, a concept developed and tested by Albert Kooy at Stenden Hotel! Inge van der Weert exemplified QO commitment to the New Dutch Cuisine by assuring that her F&B team does not use any olive oil and that 80% of the food offered in the roof restaurant comes from a greenhouse located on the same roof.

More information on QO sustainability efforts at

The second speaker was Francis Windt, GM at Mercure Amsterdam City, one of the two Accor hotels that are cooperating with the professorship Sustainability in Hospitality and Tourism on the ‘healthy food for people and planet’ project. Francis Windt did nit spoke, though, about this last project because the results so far are still under embargo. She focussed on getting rid of single use plastic items and showed a bag full of butter and margarine cups, more than 500 - the results of one breakfast at her hotel. Unfortunately there is at the moment no better option than a small plastic cup, especially for margarine, and therefore Francis Windt challenged all people present to help finding a solution.

For more information on Accor’s sustainability policy:

Mirjam Kielstra, CSR coordinator at StayOkey shared dilemmas around waste reduction. For example, coffee pulp can be used to make soap. Yet, the 66 kilogram coffee pulp that each of the StayOkey hotels produces, is not enough to be handled efficiently all along the chain leading to its possible reuse. While looking how to close the gaps in the chain, StayOkey offers the pulp gratis to clients that use it to wash pans or in their vegetable gardens.

For more information on StayOkey sustainability efforts see:

Last but not least, Amber Westverf, CSR innovator at Student Hotel, focussed on new business models. New business models are needed in circularity because goods (and the materials from which they are made) should not be bought by the user but only lended. The ownership should stay with the producer, who is therefore incentivized to design products so that all materials can be reused without loss of quality. Issues here are, for example, how to book in an hotel financial statements products that are not owned, and how to deal with responsibility during the use of the products. Notwithstanding these issues, Student Hotel has been successful in getting many functional products as a service, i.e. paying for their use and not for the ownership.

For more information on Student Hotel sustainability commitment see:

If you wish to know more about the circularity project by the Municipality of Amsterdam see (unfortunately only in Dutch).

Finally: under leadership of Dr Lucia Tomassini and with the support of Frisian hotels, campings, restaurants, and other hospitality related organizations the professorship Sustainability in Hospitality and Tourism is starting a new Circularity projects. Stay tuned to know more!

Elena Cavagnaro