For Jean-Marc Pontroué, CEO of luxury watch brand Panerai, the company’s sustainability measures start with its offices and factories and extend to the materials used in production. According to Pontroué, Panerai’s manufacturing plant reduces carbon dioxide emissions by implementing several recycling processes and using renewable resources like rainwater reuse and 100% hydropower. “The objective is to implement the use of recycled materials. We plan to do this in a way that its adoption will not affect prices as it will be based on economies of scale,” says Pontroué.
For luxury beverage alcohol company, Moët Hennessy, business is about profitability, people and the planet. “Moët Hennessy is committed to making the future sustainable for the planet and people,” says Ipsita Das, MD, Moët Hennessy India. Major Alcobev invested 20 million euros last year to create a research center dedicated to sustainable development. “We use 100% recycled water in our vineyards, practice drip irrigation in all Chandon vineyards and use no herbicides,” she adds.
Adopting sustainable development practices has become imperative for luxury brands, but it comes at a cost, which can sometimes reach 50-60% in certain categories. But the increase in costs, according to industry experts, is one-time and reduces operational expenses in the long run. Recycling a pre-loved product might not be that inexpensive, but it would also mean not producing as many new products. “Sustainability is an investment to increase revenue, strengthen image and gain market share,” says Alessandro Giuliani, MD, SDA Bocconi Asia Center.
Eleonore Cavalli, artistic director and co-founder of luxury home decor brand Visionnaire, agrees. “It costs, but it’s also a cultural transformation necessary to move forward, it’s an investment.”
The hospitality industry is at the forefront of adapting sustainable practices in the luxury sector. From reducing carbon footprint by embracing renewable energy to reducing plastic use as well as impacting the livelihoods of local communities, hotel chains are aggressively embracing sustainability, especially after Covid-19. “The pandemic has made the hospitality industry more aware of sustainability and how we care for our planet,” says Gaurav Pokhariyal, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL).
The hospitality industry is one of the biggest carbon footprint generators. While he had already started to take small steps by phasing out the use of plastic and asking customers not to wash their towels and sheets unless really necessary to save water as well as costs, the pandemic has accelerated their urge to adopt sustainable practices.
Consumers also demand sustainability. According to a recent survey by Booking.com, 88% of travelers said they want to travel more sustainably than they have ever done. While 94% of Indian travelers confirmed that sustainable travel is important to them, 68% cited recent news on climate change as a reason for making more sustainable travel choices. The travel booking website has begun accrediting properties for sustainable practices on parameters such as waste management, water and energy conservation as well as meeting climate standards. “About 100,000 properties have received accreditation,” says Laura Houldsworth, MD and vice president, Asia-Pacific, Booking.com.
This explains why hospitality businesses are rapidly adopting sustainable practices. IHCL (Taj Hotels) recently launched its “Paathya” sustainability initiative, under which it has set out several short and long-term goals to be achieved by 2030. The company has also partnered with IFC and invites renewable energies to start. ups to find energy saving solutions. “We have a pilot project running in 3-5 hotels,” says Pokhariyal.