Circular Tourism

In many countries around the world, tourism represents a sizeable percentage of their GDP and as populations in emerging markets enter the middle-class income bracket, so does the interest to travel increase. The long-term viability of the travel and tourism industry will depend on much more than just the broad concept outlined under sustainabilty.  Here is a selection of ideas for a circular tourism industry. 

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) in their GSTC Hotel Criteria document (last updated 21 December 2016) includes the following headings which makes up the standard:

Section A: Demonstrate effective sustainable management

Section B: Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts

Section C: Maximize benefits to cultural heritage and minimize negative impacts

Section D: Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts

D1: Conserve resources

D2: Reduce pollution

D3: Conserve biodiversity, eco-systems and landscapes

A Circular Map for Tourism

Here is a list of key areas for a circular tourism sector to evolve. Circular tourism does not compete with the GSTC sustainability criteria, circular tourism provides a wholistic systems approach that moves far beyond the ESG framework of water, waste and energy. 

Circular Textiles

As the technology and commitment to collect and reprocess textiles improves, this is one area the hotel and hospitality can look towards for additional gains. Depending on location and services available, a preferred model is for industry to lease their textile requirements. 

Customers can build in clauses into the service contract to guarantee circular outcomes, such as eco-design textiles (easy to assemble / dissassemble, easy to repair, material blends that can be recycled) plus the recycling of textiles at the end of the use-cycle. 

Shifting to product-as-a-service model provides the laundry the opportunity to scale up a circular textile service as opposed to individual hotels attempting to take on the transition alone. 

Circular Construction & Demolition

The sustainability credentials of a building is certified by either the US LEED, the German DGNB; or the UK BREEAM – these are the major certification standards in use today.

Currently these standards do not go far enough nor do they include circular economy principles. Better Buildings Partnership (Australia) and Better Buildings Partnership (UK) provide resources on a range of different topics, particularly suited for refurbishment and fit-outs yet still not a fully operational circular system. 

Circularity calls for construction to change its mindset to consider the entire life cycle of a building beyond its operational phase, plus every component in it, complete with extended and embodied carbon footprint.

“Beyond the construction phase, building maintenance, management and decommissioning are vital in incorporating circular economy principles, and we should take a long-term view of materials usage at design stage,” Naomi Warr, group environmental manager at McLaren Construction.

Additional Circular Tools

To download a copy of the full presentation “Circular Systems for Tourism”