Sustainability Post Lockdown

June 2020

Sustainability Post Lockdown

As we take our first tentative steps towards recovery, we know Green Tourism members will continue to make every effort to manage their environmental impacts. That’s why we’ve produced this quick guide to help you stay green as you plan to reopen.

National Coronavirus reopening guidance can be found below:

Food & Beverage Single Use


There’s has been a rise the use of disposable cutlery during the pandemic, unsurprising as take-away food is one of the few revenue streams still open to many in our industry. However disposable doesn’t have to mean plastic. There’s a wide range of environmentally friendly disposable cutlery on the market, including renewable CPLA material, compostable, wooden and bamboo options.

Look out for FSC approved items when considering wooden options such as the Bamboodlers and Fiesta Green range, or you may prefer to use Vegware's CPLA and compostable range instead. Alternatively, you could consider selling reusable FSC approved wooden or bamboo cutlery, which customers can be provided with for a small charge, keeping them and using when needed throughout their stay.

The Forrestry Stewadship Council (FSC) promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests. 

Find out more about FSC accreditation & standards


Containers & cups

With a rise in disposable cutlery there was always going to be a rise in disposable containers and cups. Vegware, Go for Green and Biopak are just three suppliers that offer a diverse selection of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional food containers including cups, bowls, salad boxes and bags-to-go.

Additionally, Vegware are the only UK supplier with a closed loop system, meaning they will not only supply you with your items, but also arrange to collect them to be recycled too. To encourage recycling you could look to provide a recycling point on-site and offer an incentive for customers to return used items.

Straws & stirrers

With several more environmentally friendly products now on the market, including paper, compostable and even pasta options, there is no reason to continue using the damaging plastic versions or to delay in switching to more eco-friendly alternatives.

Tea & coffee

During the pandemic and subsequent recovery period we anticipate that there may be a move away from loose leaf tea and in-room sugar jars, where the potential for contamination is greater.

As such, we urge you to make sure the replacements are as environmentally friendly and ethical as possible. Organisations such as Fairtrade, and the Rainforest Alliance have a wealth of information available on sustainable teas, coffees and sugars.

If you supply your guests with milk then look to use local, organic suppliers who provide glass bottles. These can be left for your guests then returned to the supplier for cleaning and recycling.

PPE Single Use


A common sight both among the public and in some businesses currently open, they cannot be considered environmentally friendly. In fact disposable PPE, including gloves, are increasingly being found in the marine environment and there is a growing concern they may cause an ecological disaster.

While important in some instances, particularly in a medical setting, there is limited evidence to show they actually help prevent, or control, the spread of Covid-19 within the general population. Despite their prevalence there really is limited benefit in using them.

The World Health Organization states that “disposable gloves should not be used as a substitute for hand washing” and that “regular hand washing is the best approach to take as gloves’ surface can get contaminated, just like bare hands can”.

To be effective disposable gloves should be changed regularly, after every change of activity at a minimum, with hands washed before and after each change, taken off correctly and above all disposed of safely.

Research has shown that Covid-19 can survive longer on non-porous surfaces, like disposable gloves, than other surfaces.

Simply placing used disposable gloves in your normal waste is not only bad for the environment but may risk contaminating everything else it touches.

Reusable gloves such as traditional marigolds, consider products like If You Care's FSC certified latex gloves. Be aware however that they must be disinfected after every use to avoid cross contamination.

In instances where disposable gloves are unavoidable, e.g. for first aid incidents or when handling harmful substances, look to use 100% biodegradable options. Spontex operate the UK’s only disposable glove recycling scheme, with collections points throughout the UK and more information available here

"PPE, including gloves, are increasingly being found in the marine environment and there is a growing concern they may cause an ecological disaster."

The Guradian


Face Masks

With face coverings now mandatory on public transport it’s likely we’ll see a continued rise in their use, especially in more confided spaces. According to an analysis by scientists at University College London if every person in the UK used one single-use mask each day for a year, an extra 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste would be created. The good news however, is that there is no need to use disposable versions, with cloth face coverings offering the same benefits, as well as having the added bonus of being reusable.

There are a range of more environmentally friendly cloth face coverings on offer, including ones made from recycled cotton, cloth and ocean plastic fabric. You can even make these yourself out of old t-shirts or bandanas as shown here. Additionally the World Health Organization has a webpage dedicated to face coverings, with information on how and when to correctly use them.

"If every person in the UK used one single-use mask each day for a year, an extra 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste would be created."

University College Londonn




Washing your hands with soap and warm water forms the cornerstone of the World Health Organisation’s advice on how to tackle the virus. The effectiveness of soap is down to the how the molecules interact with water and contaminants. These molecules are present in all soaps, whether they are in liquid, foamy or bar form so opt for products that are all natural or SLS, phosphate and palm oil free.

Companies such as Bio-D, The Little Soap Company and Faith in Nature offer a fantastic range of products while CleanConscience offer a recycling initiative for partially used bars and toiletries.

Cleaning products

Due to covid-19 being a completely new strain of coronavirus there are very few cleaning products on the market that have been tested and certified as being specifically effective against covid-19. That said there are plenty of products that have been proven to be effective against other, often tougher, viruses such as norovirus. The UK governments guidance on cleaning products in a non-medical setting states that any disinfectant should be effective against enveloped viruses and approved to EN14476 standard. Ecoworksmarine have an eco sanitiser that meets both these criteria. Other companies such as Delphis EcoBio-D and Toucan Eco offer a wide range of green cleaning products effective against such virus types although not yet approved to EN14476.

Cleaning items

Current government guidance recommends using disposable cloths or paper roll when cleaning potentially infected surfaces. While this will unfortunately add to the waste you generate, you should look to minimise the environmental impact as best you can. Opt for recycled and recyclable options such as EcoTech compostable cleaning cloths, which have the added advantage of coming in plastic free and recyclable packaging.

You may also wish to consider providing quests with reusable canvas bags and asking them to place items like used towels, or bedding in them. This will not only reduce the contact your staff have with potentially infected items but may also help speed up the cleaning process for each room.

Customer information

Traditionally, sharing information on your local area, places to eat, attractions and green information with your guests would at times be done using leaflets, posters, brochures and guests information folders. Many of these items will no longer be viable as they can be difficult to clean and sanitise. As such you may need to consider alternative ways to communicate guest information. This could be a great opportunity to improve your green communications.

Consider putting this information on your own website or creating a PDF that can be sent to customers when they book, on arrival or on request. Alternatively, you could consider developing an app for your business.

Companies such as Criton can help you design and build a personalised app to cut down on paper usage and reduce surfaces that carry infection in rooms.  They are also easy to maintain keep update and offer a better platform to engage with your customers.

Energy management

Current guidance on containing covid-19 focuses around increased hand hygiene and laundering potentially contaminated items at 60˚C+. As such we anticipate there will be an increase in energy and water use in these areas. As this will be unavoidable, at least until we learn more about the virus, now would be the perfect time to consider what changes you can make to negate these increases.

Green Energy

One of the quickest and easiest is to switch your energy tariff to a 100% renewable tariff through suppliers such as Green Energy, Octopus Energy and Ecotricity

Reduced tap flows

Another potential area to reduce consumption could be to reduce your tap flow rate, this can be done either by replacing old taps with new, more efficient ones, or by installing an aerator onto existing taps were possible.

Bespoke heating schedule

Due to the nature of the recovery plan along with physical distancing requirements it is unlikely many business will be up and running at full capacity, at least initially. With this in mind it’s worth considering adapting or modifying your BMS or heating schedule to reflect the reduced occupancy. Reducing your energy consumption is a quick win in terms of saving money and reducing your carbon footprint.


Some things to consider include adjusting or turning off your HVAC or heating system for rooms or floors without guests. Ensuring appliances, such as TV’s or fridges, are switched off at the wall. This would be especially useful in areas, or on floors, that won’t be used for an extended period of time.


Note to suppliers

We’re always on the lookout for great green products for our members. If you would like your product to be mentioned in our green guide, don’t hesitate to make contact with our assessment team at [email protected].


If you need any further advice, email [email protected]

Thank you


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