Marriott Takes a Giant Leap for the Planet, Commits to ‘Net Zero’ by 2050

Marriott International has raised the bar among hospitality companies in its commitment to help reduce global warming. On Sept. 25, at Global Citizen Live, the country’s largest hotelier plans to celebrate this milestone of promising to reach “net-zero value chain greenhouse gas emissions” no later than 2050.

Three years ago, the United Nations climate science body warned that the planet was on track to blow past efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, a threshold it warned would bring catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change.

Marriott says it’s joining the Race to Zero, a global campaign rallying companies, cities, regions and financial and educational institutions, to reach net-zero, via the most ambitious standard, Business Ambition for 1.5. The company submitted a letter pledging to re-evaluate its practices and properties with carbon reduction in mind to Science Based Targets initiative, which defines and promotes best practices in emissions reductions and net-zero targets. It also provides technical assistance and expert resources to companies who set science-based targets in line with the latest climate science.

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“We are driven to make a positive and sustainable impact wherever we do business, and this rigorous climate commitment to reach net-zero emissions is a needed step for us to do our part to help the communities and environments where we live, work and visit remain resilient and vibrant,” said Anthony Capuano, Marriott’s CEO. “Even as we navigate one of the industry’s most difficult periods, we know this ambition will be a challenge. We are proud to join companies and institutions around the world striving to tackle climate change and build a healthier, more sustainable world.”

Marriott hotels have been working to reduce their carbon footprint as part of its existing 2025 sustainability goals. Achieving these new targets, the company says, will require partnering with its employees as well as hotel owners and franchisees.

In a press release, the company lists possible steps it will take, including use of renewable energy, building electrification to maximize renewable electricity, more energy-efficient building standards and installation of automation systems and energy efficiency upgrades (for example, smart thermostats).

Guests and customers will see enhanced focus on existing sustainability efforts like solid waste and food-waste reduction and natural capital restoration, with the opportunity to participate in activities such as reforestation as well as coral and mangrove plantings.

This announcement aligns with the company’s sustainability and social impact platform, Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction, “which guides Marriott’s commitment to help take on the world’s most pressing social, environmental and economic issues, delivering value for associates, customers, owners, the environment and communities around the world,” according to a company statement.

Numerous Marriott sustainability initiatives are currently underway.

  • Reduction of single-use plastics, including replacing tiny, single-use toiletry bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel in guest room showers with larger pump-topped bottles. When fully implemented across the globe in 2022, the company’s expanded toiletry program is expected to prevent about 500 million tiny bottles annually from going to landfills.
  • Internal food waste prevention and reduction educational campaign to support Marriott’s goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent.
  • A responsible sourcing guide to help Marriott’s suppliers to responsibly source 95 percent of the company’s Top 10 priority categories.
  • Development of a certifications database to help properties operate more responsibly and work towards the goal of 100 percent of the company’s hotel portfolio receiving a third-party sustainability certification.
  • Planting more than 415,000 trees over the last several years, including through being a founding member of the Evergreen Alliance, a group of Arbor Day Foundation partners and collaborators.
  • Ecosystem restoration and carbon sequestration projects, such as working with The Ocean Foundation to remove and repurpose sargassum seaweed, which has had devastating impacts on the environment.

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More details about Marriott’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts and Serve 360 can be found here.

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