The Textile Services Association (TSA) and UKHospitality hold second roundtable looking at joint industry challenges.
The event, which was held on Friday 22nd July at London Marriott Hotel Regents Park, was chaired by David Stevens, CEO of the TSA, and featured delegates from some of the UK’s biggest companies in both the hospitality and laundry sectors. The day consisted of two sessions. The first was broadly based around the current situation around commercial laundry services, how they operate within the hospitality ecosystem and the broader challenges both industries are facing.
This included discussing the impacts of rising costs and wages and the difficulties both sectors are facing with recruiting and retaining staff. Michael Jones, managing director of Fishers Services, noted that they are seeing a demand for flexibility in shift patterns from staff. Similarly, Sarah Simmonds, director of commercial procurement for Travelodge saw the trend for multi-skilling staff and diversifying roles increasing in importance.
The continued expansion of the number of hotels and the concomitant rise in demand for laundry services will be a big challenge for both industries if they are going to harmonise supply capability with demand. All participants agreed that closer working relationships to build the necessary infrastructure was necessary for it to succeed.
The TSA produces a laundry cost index which highlights the key elements of a laundry service and tracks movements in these costs. This is currently running at 23% and this figure formed the basis of the discussion. However even this rate does not reflect the wage pressures both industries are experiencing due to lag in gathering accurate figures. The cost of linen was also discussed, the importance of growing the culture of valuing the product which will support both the viability and the sustainability objectives of the group.
David Stevens noted that out of 7,000 tonnes of linen purchased every year for the hospitality industry only a very small percentage is used to its maximum potential. All parties agreed that there was progress to be made through improved staff training on best practices. Nigel Graham from Bourne Leisure stressed the need to change the culture and attitude, and the need for support from the laundry industry to communicate the importance of linen care.
The group also discussed alternative contractual arrangements as we develop stronger supply partnerships. It was felt the current arrangement do not always allow for long-term investments.
The second session focussed on the shared sustainability roadmap of UKHospitality and the TSA. David gave a presentation on the TSA’s new Infinite Textiles scheme. This is a recycling initiative to eliminate the amount of linen that ends up in landfill. The TSA is looking for ways to ensure that textiles can be recovered and recycled into new products using the latest fibre-to-fibre technologies.
Christoph Geppert, director of Grain Sustainability, has been engaged by the TSA to support their sustainability journey and to present its members with a series of objectives and a template roadmap for the membership to engage with.
He highlighted that meeting the targets regarding emissions caused across supply chains will require ongoing dialogue between hotels and laundries to optimise processes. In presenting the TSA’s roadmap he stressed the importance of the two industries working together – essentially, laundry is one of the areas hotels needs to focus on to reduce their scope 3 emissions. “Both industries need to be ready to act quickly,” he said. “The longer we wait to start reducing emissions across the value chain the more radical the change will have to be”.
Tony Sophoclides, strategic affairs director for UKHospitality, hailed the impressive work already being done within the hotel industry while stressing the need to go further.
While a great deal of progress has happened in terms of reducing the carbon footprint of laundries, the life cycle for hotel textiles is a complex one. David expressed his pleasure that the two industries were working together to align strategies at the beginning of this journey.
Following on from this, Jack Quick, UKHospitality’s Policy Manager, gave an overview of UKH’s current roadmap for improving sustainability and cutting emissions that fall under Scope 3. As around 90% of hospitality’s emissions come from supply chains it will involve co-operation and education to continue the impressive work that hospitality and commercial laundries have already accomplished. Helen Wood, managing director of Johnsons Hotel Linen observed that “Everyone needs to think differently” to reduce emissions throughout supply chains.
UKHospitality’s roadmap is currently aiming towards reducing operational emissions by 2030, with Net Zero by 2040. Going forward, both organisations will aim to promote and share best practices with simple and cost-effective ways to tackle sustainability.
The round table concluded with all parties agreeing to continue working together, with a pledge, to form a sustainability joint steering group and a separate project group to work within the housekeeping teams to provide training and support on improving the longevity of the linen. Furthermore, it was agreed that there would be further roundtables at an executive level, every six months, to keep everyone updated as hotels and laundries evolve viable models for sustainable operations between the two industries.
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