Update on Sustainability. 

 

Insider Plus once again met Patrick Spiteri Staines, who, early last year, was appointed Head of Sustainability by CHL. We are aware that much progress has been registered in line with regulatory reporting requirements and strategy development. External professional input has also been roped in the process to help define what is needed. So, we asked Patrick a searching question: 

As the man in the driving seat and seeing this process through, could you share information with the readers of Insider Plus on the work done in this field this past year and your immediate plans and targets ? 

The following is his informative response.

The Group had a public Sustainability Policy set up in 2021 that gave overall direction and guidance. In view of the 2024 regulatory reporting obligations and the need to develop a comprehensive Sustainability strategy for the organisation, it was decided to bring in external support to expedite this and have alignment on these issues. In view of this, we engaged the services of KPMG to support the development of an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy and application of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) as well as the EU Taxonomy. 

The EU taxonomy is an EU-regulated framework for obligatory fiscal reporting on Sustainability topics.

In layperson’s terms, it shows how much money an organisation is really spending on sustainability. This covers revenue, capital expenditure and operational expenditure. It defines the organisation’s economic activities that need to be reported and are hence eligible. It also details technical criteria by which one has to assess whether the eligible activities are aligned with the EU regulations and how to asses that they also do no significant harm in other environmental areas while also assuring that the organisation adheres to minimum social safeguards. This framework is not new, but it has been substantially enhanced and expanded since last year and will continue to develop over the following years. The advantage of this framework is that it allows for the eligible organisation to demonstrate their fiscal investments in Environmental and Social activities in a manner that is uniform across all subject organisations.

Over the last year and the beginning of this year, we have outlined the reporting responsibilities of the Group under the EU Taxonomy. This has led us to define the existing gaps in data collection and policies to have a clearer picture of the required improvements necessary over this year and what needs to be done to be in a better reporting position by the end of the year. We have also been in contact with our Auditors to ensure complete alignment on this, as we will need limited assurance on this reporting from them for our 2024 report, which will be due in April of 2025.

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is another new obligatory reporting requirement that defines the processes and methodology for Sustainability reporting. This EU directive gives clear and precise direction and defined standards by which sustainability reporting needs to be done. This allows for a level playing field from now on for all sustainability reporting, making benchmarking and evaluation easier across the various sectors.

The Group has conducted its double materiality assessment under CSRD. The object of this evaluation, part of the defined methodology in CSRD, was to determine the main ESG impacts the Group has looking outward and what could be the major financial effects on the Group from environmental and social changes, looking inward. This exercise and internal and external stakeholder workshops helped establish the main topics for reporting under CSRD. Currently, reporting data points are being defined and categorised between existing reported data, easily extendable data for the current year, and areas requiring further data collection efforts throughout the year to enable reporting in the coming years. 

The internal and external stakeholder workshops were key in acquiring the ideas and aspirations of the various groups consulted. These sessions included discussions on peer studies and benchmarking exercises done by KPMG. The outputs and aspired ideas from these workshops were analysed and, together with the double materiality exercise, fed into the Sustainability Strategy development process. Over the following months, measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and associated targets will be established with timelines based on this strategy. This will be discussed with each business unit and Hotel within the Group to align with practical considerations on the ground. Targets will be finalised and communicated once consensus is reached throughout the strategy. The KPIs will be monitored regularly over the coming months, and a yearly evaluation of the progress will be made.

Apart from the KPMG consultancy project, several other sustainability-related activities were initiated over the last year. Most notable was the setting up of four sustainability focus groups: Food & Beverage, Waste, Low energy rooms and Drinking water. Several meetings were held with these focus groups, resulting in several interesting outputs. 

Lisbon: food waste monitoring

In Lisbon, we made a trial on food waste monitoring. This system used camera recognition and AI with a digital weighing scale to monitor, identify and weigh food waste going into a bin. This system allows for scientific monitoring and regular reporting on organic waste, thus allowing the head chef to take remedial actions to reduce the food waste.

At the Palace Hotel, Malta, we conducted a trial of automated cooking oil filtering, which improves the quality of the cooking oil and the output food and increases the oil’s lifetime. We evaluated the use of drinking fountains in Back of House (BOH) areas to reduce plastic water bottles. This is recommended where possible. In Lisbon, they started bottling their own drinking water in reusable glass bottles for one of their restaurants. This reduces the use of plastic for drinking water.

Over the year, we set up a Sustainability Champion in each hotel with the GM’s approval to function as a focal point for information gathering and sustainability activities. This person will be essential in discussing each Hotel’s KPIs and targets and will organise a multidisciplinary group that can feed into this important exercise.

We have conducted a detailed study of energy and water utility consumption data and its collection to verify the validity and accuracy of data, as well as develop a medium- and long-term data management plan to improve data collection and ultimately automate this as much as possible.

PV panels. Corinthia Palace Hotel

We monitored the rollout and electrical generation of PV panels on all Malta Hotels and Industrial premises; over their operating months last year, these generated 1,832 MWh, which meant a reduction of 711 Tons of CO2e across the Group.

Last year, we began laying the foundations for a comprehensive Sustainability Strategy. This year, we plan to conclude this and aim to have our Sustainability Focus Areas with targets and action plans finalised by the end of the year. Thus, over the next few months, I will work with all the Hotels to help achieve alignment and develop individual action plans for Sustainability.

These are exciting times, and we aim to tackle this subject honestly and authentically, keeping in mind the main stakeholders, our employees, customers and our planet.