Panel Discussion – Brussels, 13th May: Can tourism be circular?

May 17, 2019By adminUncategorized

Panel: Vanessa Butani – Scandic Hotels, Brendan Burns – European Economic Social Committee, Sarah Wilkin – Jet Fuel from Waste. Moderated by Roland Moore – BCW.

Yes it can, but firstly can we define tourism as a sector? This was the point of Brendan Burns, member of the European Economic Social Committee. It’s hard to put figures and targets to and make policies on a sector that covers so many different services and is hard to define. So how do we start to discuss such a topic?

We started by presenting how we all interpreted being circular in our own projects and roles, and our moderator, Roland Moore, set the scene by letting us know that tourism is one of the fastest growing industries and contributes 10% to GDP and tied our discussion together well with some excellent points and posing some thought provoking questions.

Jet Fuel from Waste’s way of being circular is by looking into how businesses are handling waste within tourism and seeing if this can be recycled into biofuel to decarbonise air travel.  Vanessa discussed how Scandic Hotels are handling food, as one example, and how Scandic led the ‘hang up your towel‘ campaign . Brendan brought up how the experience should be one that inspires behaviours and Roland mentioned that on holiday we are generally feeling more open and so this is a time we are receptive to new ideas so encouraging new behaviours on vacation could be a good way to embed more sustainable thinking in our daily lives. Brendan encouraged this idea and thought including the customer was key and that being more transparent about operations and sustainable practices and perhaps some of the nitty gritty is not a bad thing.

Also if we are thinking about defining tourism then what is the difference between being a local and being a tourist? We all consume, waste, do, experience things…. so this then brings the point up of whether tourism can be circular, yes it can, if we can be circular in our daily lives then we can be while being a tourist also. So the task seems to be how do we apply the circular economy (CE) principles to an all encompassing sector?

UNWTO let us know that they have set up a working group which is looking into how to define the role of CE in tourism and have started a series of webinars which can be found online. They have started to discuss the topic choosing to look into buildings and construction, food waste and mobility (transport) as a start and they want to involve a wider group to make some agreements on how to move forward with a circular approach in tourism. This is ongoing work which we are happy to be part of going forward.

Going back to thinking about being a tourist, as we holiday, we often want luxury which can lead to over indulgence but as Vanessa from Scandic said they give their guests smaller plates so they don’t overload, and design their buffets to nudge guests to make healthier choices to avoid piling up unneeded food , they have also removed the small disposable shampoo bottles in their hotels and replaced them with large dispensers which means they can improve the quality of the product they offer their customers. There are ways to maintain quality while reducing waste, plastic use and excess. Digitalisation, timers and sharing culture – all ways to think more efficiently too.

In the Netherlands the plan to decarbonise aviation is called Smart and Sustainable. This title does seem to sum things up quite well and as a few have mentioned recently, the term sustainability didn’t use to exist, it was called cost savings so as businesses look to be sustainable for environmental reasons they will by default sustain the business by saving money and future proofing themselves also. It has a double benefit, although the initial layout costs of the initiatives could be the offputting-factor. One of the challenges.

Cafe de Ceuvel in Amsterdam is a circular hub and office space which is energy self-sufficient and educates and inspire it’s customers with their practices to make them think about their behaviours at home too, so a good example of involving the customer in operations in a transparent way.

So, can the circular practices increase, can the impact be measured and costs savings added up? If they can then tourism can be circular and it will start happening more often. Market research already shows that if a business has a good sustainability rating then this pleases their customers and encourages loyalty but it has to be credible. Programmes such as Innovation Lighthouse are looking into different experiences they can give a customer in the hotel which encourages conscious behaviour changes which they can take away with them. There is a lot of new thinking in how we can travel sustainably in order to preserve communities, avoid over tourism and too much waste because we don’t want to stop travelling, we don’t want to shame but we do want to work toward the sustainability challenge.

In the same week we also attended Green Week and heard about the EU funded project TACKLE which has been initiated by the Institute of Management at Scuola Superiore Saint Anna and supported by UEFA. This looks into how circular principles can be applied to mega events, sport tourism and in football. The discussion was about green procurement and the team, Real Betis, who are promoting climate action on their kits to demonstrate that football as a business with a large audience is also contributing to SDG 13 on Climate Action. Patrick Gasser, Head of Social Responsibility, at UEFA also seconding this, saying all sustainable initiatives they work on should be working towards climate action firstly.

We look forward to being part of the discussion and to seeing how we can contribute to decarbonising the aviation sector, managing waste more efficiently, reducing emissions and becoming more circular, sustainable travellers.

Can tourism be circular?

May 1, 2019By adminUncategorized

We will be part of a lunch time panel discussion on 13th May in Brussels where we will discuss the role of the circular economy within tourism.

Hosted by Burson Cohn Wolfe and moderated by their Sustainability Director, Roland Moore.

A link to the invite is here.

Other panellists include Vanessa Butani from Scandic Hotels and Brendan Burns from the European Economic Social Committee.

We invite you to attend the discussion. You can register through the link here.

Leeds University learning about Circular Economy and biofuel for aviation in AMS

April 17, 2019By adminUncategorized

This week we introduced a group of University of Leeds students studying Environmental and Sustainability Studies to Cafe de Ceuvel, an award winning energy self-sufficient circular initiative which has redeveloped an old shipping yard in North Amsterdam.

We want to work with universities and education institutes and be part of the future workforce gaining knowledge and ideas in order to push innovation and thought leadership further.

We are interested in what the circular economy symbolises and how it can demonstrate a smarter approach to resource and waste management, design and systems.

Our project looks to demonstrate that within tourism we can create a circular economy by turning waste from tourism and hospitality back into biofuel for flights which is one of the ways to decarbonise our travel and remove waste from landfill.

We were happy to share this experience with the group of interested students from Leeds Uni and their Associate Professor of Sustainability, Lucie Middlemiss.

#futureleaders #impact #jetfuelfromwaste

Environmental & Sustainability degree students at Cafe de Ceuvel

Booking’s CEO announces commitment to sustainable tourism

March 27, 2019By adminUncategorized’s CEO, Gillan Tans, just announced on linkedin their committment to sustainable tourism through their Booking Cares programme which we are happy we are part of:

Our mission at is to empower people to experience the world. But, for us, sustainable travel is key to doing so responsibly, and ensuring that all of us can continue to encounter destinations across the world that are still worth exploring.

Our definition of travelling sustainably involves tourism dispersal (spreading the fruits of tourism more widely and relieving some of the pressures of overtourism), environmental conservation and protection, inclusive travel, and cultural preservation and promotion. This year, through our Booking Cares initiative, our commitment to sustainable travel was bigger than ever. More from our Booking Cares annual update here.

We are listed in the Booking Cares annual report which can be found here.

Strategy & Branding Day with Lab Rooms

February 18, 2019By adminUncategorized

We had a strategy and branding day with our friends at Lab Rooms which myself, Dr Raveendran of University of Amsterdam and Ornella Cosomati, our public affairs and sustainability adviser, attended. We all put our heads together with the support of the Lab Rooms design team and strategists to think about what branded look we should go for and what our messaging should be.

We have not found our final name yet but feel that our research project should be named Jet Fuel from Waste until we find the right fit.


Sarah Wilkin

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Impactful Investing Conference

February 9, 2019By adminUncategorized

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I attended All about Impactful Investing at King’s College London, where City leaders in investment funds discussed how impact reporting was becoming a developing skill, even discussing how the intangible was becoming a value, Trucost was discussing Total Value Analysis and that now funds are often tied to individual SDGs.

Thomas Schafbauer from Arabesque mentioned investments are changing to align with investors values rather than ROI, so a social return on investment. Strong indicator that the way we do business is changing and brands need to develop sustainability as part of strategic or financial pillars and should develop their narrative to build trust, green washing has taken this away and so genuine demonstratable comms need to show that what they are doing is not just CSR policy.  It was very interesting to hear what is happening in the City right now.

Thanks King’s Impact Investing Society. I look forward to supporting

Sarah Wilkin 

Nordic Dutch Circular Economy Summit – January

February 9, 2019By adminUncategorized

The Dutch Prime Minister said the Circular Economy is for the white wine sipping middle class. This was part of the discussion at the event that was put on by the Dutch and Nordic Chambers of Commerce on January 15th.

Ambassadors from each country – Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland – were in attendance and gave a short talk mentioning examples of what each of their respective countries were doing to promote the Circular Economy.

Robert Schroder of the European Commission discussed the framework the Commission has put into place so that each country can choose their own path without too much prescription.

There was some discussion around how can we make it not for the white-wine-sipping- middle-class. One of our answer is to put it into education programmes and teach those in education these new ways. We truly believe this is one of the best approaches and that is why we are attending a panel discussion at Ecole de Lausanne to talk with students about what to do with waste within hospitality. EHL teaches of the financial benefits of the circular economy, very practically and does not promote it as a CSR policy. This is also why we will also work with University of Leeds and be part of a field trip of theirs in Amsterdam where we will present different circular economy initiatives.

As Greta Thunberg makes waves globally I think it is clear that our future is going to be in the hands of a younger generation that wants drastic change. The future is circular.


Sarah Wilkin 

Speaker list: Nordic Dutch Circular Economy Summit

Granted by

February 9, 2019By adminUncategorized

On December 11th, while having a beer and a few bitten ballen with my fellow Booking Cares friends from the Philippines, we were told that our project was granted . I laughed and celebrated and then cried from relief. It was a huge achievement for Dr Raveendran and I.  We were extremely pleased as it meant we could continue with our work on the innovation of waste-to-fuel and dedicate the next year to building our project up with the support, network and mentorship from such a great global brand.

I had personally ‘gone for broke’ on our project and had stopped working in my previous role to concentrate on the Booking Cares proposal, as I believed in Dr Raveendran’s abilities and the need to work on important projects such as ours. With that said I am now proud to be one of main drivers of this project and will work towards building a team and a successful strategy.

Thank you and especially Sebastian Cervetto who was the first one at to show us support.

We look forward to working on this global challenge with the team.


Sarah Wilkin

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Attended workshop

February 9, 2019By adminUncategorized

Dr Raveeendran and I were invited to attend a 4 day workshop at’s HQ in Amsterdam December 4-7th. We were shortlisted along with another 12 projects and were given the opportunity to be granted by the Booking Cares programme.

Booking put on a great programme of events to introduce us to the other teams and projects, to tell us about the work they are doing and to help us to create our proposal deck ready for our interview with the Booking Cares judges.

We were also asked to input on the programme itself and to give our thoughts on’s strategy for sustainable tourism in the future.

A lot was at stake for our project but the atmosphere was relaxed and help was available from our mentor and the Booking Cares team.

Sarah Wilkin 


Shortlisted by

August 7, 2018By adminUncategorized

It was announced that we would attend a workshop in Amsterdam December 4-7 where we would create our proposal and be given the opportunity to potentially gain a grant to progress our work in waste-to-fuel.

The application process opened in August 2018 and closed in September. By October we’d been invited for a skype interview and then later in the month were told we were shortlisted further.

I’d emailed Dr Raveendran to find out about his sustainable chemistry work on 18th December 2017 and we met in January 2018, when we decided we could potentially work on turning waste into jet fuel.

Sarah Wilkin


booking cares
Shortlisted for the Booking Cares programme