Our beautiful Planet Earth, awe inspiring, life giving yet endangered.
The term ‘Global Warming’ isn’t new and can be traced way back to 1961, but over 50 years later it is still something we’re getting to grips with. With programmes such as Blue Planet 2 recently reminding us how fragile and endangered our planet is, and the United nations declaring 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, many people are now taking the environmental impact of their business trips into account.
For the leisure tourist, the easiest way to cut down their carbon footprint is as simple as flying less – but most business travellers are without this option as they are expected to fly all over the world for client meetings, attending important trade shows and visiting international offices.
So whilst we may be considering our “green footprint” more and more, the amount of people taking flights is only expected to rise, with IATA predicting passenger demand on airlines to double over the next 20 years, with a predicted 7.2 billion passengers in 2035.
With this expected rise in air travel, the industry is having to come up with new and innovative ways to increase awareness of the environmental impact of travel, whilst also coming up with technological innovations to reduce its impact. Here are just some of the ways the business travel industry is transforming to become more sustainable:
Low Emission Jet Fuel
Possibly the most pressing issue when thinking of green innovation within the business travel industry is looking for ways to cut emission rates for jet fuel.
As the aviation industry was left out of the Paris Agreement, it has instead come together of its own accord, to form a global deal which is advancing low carbon fuel at a rapid rate.
The main player for the low emission fuel is a company called LanzaTech who in partnership with
Virgin Atlantic have been developing the first jet fuel derived from industrial waste gas. After breakthroughs in 2016, this technology is edging ever closer to the commercial market.
The science behind this new, greener fuel is really fascinating and uses a process which is almost as old as planet we are trying to save. The innovation recycles gas emissions from steel production (these gases are similar to those emissions from hydro-thermal vents in the earth) and using microbes which feed on the gas, transforms carbon to ethanol.
According to Lanzatech, this new fuel formula offers a 50-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional petroleum gasoline, as well as recycling the carbon-rich gases from steel mills instead of sending it up into our atmosphere. LanzaTech recently produced a 6800 litre batch of this low emission fuel, which was considered a breakthrough in proving commercial production a reality. Now with ArcelorMittal, the world largest steel maker building an €87m pilot plant at its steel facility in Ghent, Belgium, ‘Lanzanol’ is set to take off!
Whilst many of us will automatically think of co2 emissions when thinking about green travel, another green innovation is the concept of ‘sustainable travel destinations’. This is by no means a new innovation, as the idea has been around since the beginning of this century, but recently the concept is being taken more seriously.
Tourism can be hugely beneficial for a country’s economy, but the negative effects are hard to ignore, with natural habitat loss endangering wildlife and pollution caused by overpopulation being the tip of the iceberg. Thankfully, opinions are now changing, and many countries are taking huge steps to become a sustainable destination, knowing the public's conscience is waking up to the impact we are having on our planet.
So, what makes a ‘green destination’? The World Tourism Organisation defines it as ‘Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities" which means that as well as considering your reliance on fossil fuels and its effect on climate change, travellers and businesses are now also being concerned with the environmental effect they are having at their destination rather than just considering the journey to it.
24 percent of tourism's CO2 emissions come from accommodations, so as well as using technology to improve guest experience the hotel industry is also taking huge steps to be as eco-friendly as possible, using technology to reduce its impact on the environment in a bid to attract green business travellers.
Technology such as low-flow toilets and shower heads, rainwater harvesting systems and motion-sensing lighting are a relatively cheap and simple (yet effective) way of reducing the effect on the environment.
Another big issue facing the hotel industry is the way the Laundry is undertaken. Typically, laundry uses a huge amount of water, as well as the vast amount of energy needed to heat the water to temperatures over 100 degrees. New technology is combating this issue, with companies such as Xeros leading the way with an innovative process called “bead cleaning”.
This new way of doing laundry ditches the vast quantities of water and instead uses millions of tiny polymer beads to remove stains from fabrics. Xeros claims their process cuts water consumption by up to 75%, which is good news for green travellers as well as for Mother Nature!
As well as the current innovations which are already a reality, huge investment is now being put into research to come up with the sustainability solutions of tomorrow. Heathrow Airport recently announced a Sustainable Innovation Prize, with a prize of £20,000 on offer for the best environmental innovation concept (as well as the opportunity to use Heathrow as a “live laboratory” to trial and develop the idea)
In the words of the great Sir David Attenborough, “'The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us”
What are your thoughts? Are you a self-proclaimed ‘green traveller?’ Leave your comments in the box below!