Green Key: an ecoresponsible label for the tourist sector

© Sofie Zborilova

Hotels and restaurants produce large quantities of very diverse types of waste: plastic packaging, wood and metal from end-of-life furniture, textile waste, organic waste from leftover food and yard waste.

For the players in this sector, adopting more sustainable practices entails overcoming certain fears and constraints specific to their activities: How to reconcile the management of biowaste with the strict health regulations? How to reconcile sorting, which requires additional and specific waste bins, with the limited space available in kitchens? How to train the personnel, that varies from one season to another, in sustainable practices, etc.?  

Green Key is the first French and international sustainable label for tourism. It helps players in the industry with their environmental initiatives and their efforts to develop a more ecologically virtuous and socially responsible tourism. Let's meet Nathalie Bel Baussant, Green Key’s Country Manager.


In your opinion, what are the qualities of ecoresponsible tourist accommodation or restaurants?

Establishments must have a global and continual approach. Global, inasmuch as they focus on seven main fields of action: their environmental policy (staff training, social and societal responsibility), raising the awareness of their customers, the efficient management of energy and water consumption, waste management, responsible purchasing, and the general framework of the establishment. This general framework may be for example the respect of the maximum capacity per hectare in a camping site.

Is it accessible to all?

Yes, we defend the idea that it is not complicated to implement. Every profile of tourist accommodation is represented amongst the 624 Green Key-labelled establishments in France. Our label covers the different types of camping sites, bed and breakfast, holiday villages and five-star hotels with hundreds of rooms. There are no circumstances that prevent this initiative from being taken. We often face apprehension about the time and money it will cost. But, apart from infrastructure-related problems, launching an environmental initiative does not necessarily incur significant costs.

What are the levers or the good practices that can improve the sustainability of the sector?

Trade organisations are becoming increasingly aware of these ecoresponsible initiatives. For the sector to become sustainable, it is important that professionals who want to take this step do not feel isolated. They must seek advice from their trade organisation, their brand, the tourism authorities or tourism agencies and committees. Then, they can assess their establishment and see where they stand on a scale. Step by step, professionals can take small actions to reduce the volume of waste they produce: organic composting, asking suppliers for products with less packaging, making the personnel and customers more aware of the importance of sorting, or stop using disposable tableware. It is also important to avoid adopting an accusatory stance towards customers, and to encourage them to engage in this process in a fun way. Once the personnel is onboard and the customers are more aware, it’s very difficult to make an about turn!



If you want to take an accessible initiative in favour of responsible waste management, contact the Green Key Label and find out about the Future of Waste*'s toolbox “Tackling waste in events and tourism” !

Developed in collaboration with professionals, this toolbox is constantly enhanced by members of the community through a database of solutions and references. If you want to share your feedback, write to us at



*SUEZ and makesense teamed up in 2014 to create Future of Waste, a programme intended to engage multiple stakeholders in waste management in order to speed up the transition towards a circular, inclusive and ecological economy.


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