As part of Sustainable First’s partnership with the UNEP’s & UNWTO’s Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, Mafalda Borea speaks to Carl Hunter, Property Manager of Jade Mountain Resort, St Lucia about their commitment to the Initiative and what changes they have gone through to implement new sustainable policies to eradicate single use plastic in the resort.
Question: Why is sustainability important to you?
Answer: We recognize that sustainability is the essential component that has to be embedded into any organization that is sincere in its efforts to be planet responsible.
Q: What are the benefits of including your commitment to sustainably when communicating with potential visitors?
A: Communication reinforces our commitments. By Communicating we can be measured against our words via the actions we have taken and what our guests touch and interact with.
Q: What competitive advantages have you gained in implementing the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative?
A: I would not say this has given us any additional competitive advantage however we already are founded on environmental best practice and our reputation has been built on that. This initiative however helped further solidify our commitments and adds yet another layer of things we do to be climate and planet proactive.
Q: Where did you start from and what are your next steps to implement a circular economy of plastics?
A: Analysis of what alternatives could replace single use plastics and secondary from the range of alternatives considered which would be appropriate for St Lucia and the challenges we have managing solid waste. I.E. PLA Bio-Plastics appear a good option but require a system of waste separation and industrial composting to be effective in managing PLA as a waste stream. This is not available here so PLA would have been a BAD choice option.
Q: Do you have an interesting example/project that you want to share with us?
A: Pre-COVID-19 and hopefully to be restored afterwards, we sought to showcase natural containers wherever possible for drinks and especially buffet displays. I.E. Coconuts or bamboo cuts as drinking and ceviche bowls. We also use the calabash fruit skin as bowls for presentation and serving.
Q: What challenges have you been confronted with and how did you manage to overcome these?
A: Cost increases for the alternative products have been the biggest hurdle. Recently the government’s Department of Sustainability has removed duties for eco-containers and this has helped. We also feel that St Lucia would benefit from a consolidated sourcing exercise ensuring we drive the right price for the right product. I believe there is no need to be proprietary about containers, what works for one, should work for all.
Q: How did the COVID-19 crisis impact your ambitions?
A: No major impact, we have managed to stay on track.
Q: How do you engage with other actors along your value chains to implement the GTPI and sustainability measures?
A: We are so small we have little to no influence over our value chains. We strongly believe that on a national level, single use plastics should be replaced and should be policy driven. If that occurs we solve the issue at the border, allowing us to focus energies on educating community members on waste in general, composting and other best practices in relation to plastic waste.
Q: How do you measure the impact of these changes?
A: We have not measured impacts yet, we have good reception from guests and the focus has generally reduced waste (a lot of what we do is use reusable washable containers therefore eliminating the waste concern altogether).
Q: What advice would you give to other SMEs to implement these ambitious goals?
A: Be cautious and do a study that contemplates the location in which you operate. Ensure that your selected alternatives meet the needs for the item it replaces and that these can also be managed well as a waste stream after use.
Jade Mountain Resort is working towards the following UN Sustainable Development Goals: