Travelling towards a more sustainable future
Ethical Strategy September 2010
Welcome to the third edition of our Ethical Strategy. As part of The Co-operative we have a strong history of corporate responsibility which we’re proud of and The Co-operative Travel is committed to supporting sustainable tourism. We offer our customers the widest selection of holidays and have been working hard to increase the range of holidays by rail for those customers who prefer not to fly. For those who choose to fly, we actively collect £1 per passenger on behalf of The Travel Foundation and the monies we’ve collected allows us to have our own sustainable tourism projects abroad. These projects will be very carefully measured and evaluated to ensure that our customers donations really help lessen the impact that their holiday may have on the environment and local communities. We also continue to offer Co-operative members a free carbon offset on their holiday flight. As a co-operative business owned by our members, we’re more than just about pursuing profit – we’re expected to lead the field in matters of ethics and the environment. Our unique Sustainable Travel for Schools scheme educates school children in the importance of sustainable tourism and how they can be responsible travellers. We still, in principle, oppose the development of runways throughout the UK unless there is a clear sustainability case. In this document you’ll learn more about The Co-operative Travel’s Ethical Strategy, what we’ve achieved so far, what we’re working on and where we’re heading. We believe that it is possible to do business in a way that’s good for everyone. Mike Greenacre Managing Director The Co-operative Travel
Supporting the Travel Foundation The Travel Foundation is a UK charity that supports communities in holiday destinations worldwide, by investing in sustainable tourism initiatives. We ask that all our customers donate £1 to the Travel Foundation when they book their holiday with us. So far this year we’ve collected over £200,000 for the Travel Foundation and next year we hope to raise in excess of £350,000. As a major supporter of the Travel Foundation, 20% of the funds we raise on their behalf can be used to fund bespoke projects. We are now working on a local food sourcing project in Turkey to supply local hotels. Research has revealed that this is a complex and ambitious project with a substantial time period required to achieve long term results. In order to help maximise the results the project will be co-sponsored by Tui and Thomas Cook. We have also committed to support a livelihoods project in Mexico, supporting the local Mush Meya group to conserve the endangered melipona bee, and are researching further project opportunities relating to water access. The Co-operative Travel Managing Director, Mike Greenacre, is Vice Chairman of The Travel Foundation.
Work in the community The Co-operative Group has a long history of successful community work and The Co-operative Travel is becoming more actively involved in community projects. The Co-operative Travel has developed a unique education programme to develop children’s knowledge of sustainable travel. The Greener Travel Award scheme teaches children about responsible tourism and provides an insight into how a travel agency operates. As part of the scheme, Travel branch managers visit schools to brief Year 5 children on how the decisions taken when choosing a holiday can make it more sustainable. The children then complete a scrapbook to represent their holiday and the actions they took to make it more sustainable. The scheme was piloted in 19 schools in 2009 and this year 50 schools are involved reaching 1,800 children and their families. We plan to involve 120 schools and travel agents in 2011. We have also produced children’s activity books in conjunction with the Travel Foundation that are given out with all family holiday bookings. The activity books feature our children’s character Ben the Tiger alongside the Travel Foundation’s character Hatch the Turtle, with the aim of helping to increase children’s awareness of sustainable tourism through fun activities. 6
Overland Travel As part of our commitment to sustainable tourism, weâ€™re working to widen the choice of holiday transport options we offer as an alternative to flying. We want our customers to have a viable choice in the way that they travel to their holiday destination. We now offer a range of holidays by rail as the mode of transport as an alternative to air travel. Rail providers including Rail Europe and Eurostar have made overland travel to and around Europe much more accessible which allows our customers to reach their holiday destination by rail. We are also working with companies including Rail Trail, Treyn Holidays and Great Rail Journeys to provide holidays that are escorted tour holidays by rail. We have also ensured that our staff continue to improve their knowledge of these holiday alternatives and in Autumn 2009 all staff undertook training modules in this area. We continue to work hard to develop our rail travel proposition. Updates on progress will be posted at www.co-operativetravel.co.uk/ethical-strategy
Carbon Offsetting The Co-operative Travel works with Climate Care, an organisation dedicated to combating climate change, to provide our customers with an easy way to ensure that they counteract the impact that their flight has on the climate. When customers book a holiday with us, they have the option of making a small payment to fund carbon offset projects in the developing world. Our members have the option of a free carbon offset on their holiday flight when they book a holiday with us. Climate Care ensure that projects are well managed and deliver the carbon savings promised. Our staff are fully committed to carbon offsetting and all of our staff have completed our green training programme which includes carbon offsetting. This training module is compulsory for all new starters. For more information on carbon offsetting and the projects funded by us, visit www.co-operative.coop//ethicsinaction/climatechange/carbonoffsetting/
Renewable energy All branches of The Co-operative Travel are powered by renewable electricity. Last year we purchased 8.99GWh of renewable electricity, saving 4,916 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process. In 2010 we’ve maintained our ‘carbon neutral’ status by offsetting the remaining emissions from Travel’s business operations. The Co-operative’s wind farm at Coldham in Cambridgeshire is a joint venture between The Co-operative Group and Scottish Power. The electricity generated from this farm alone is enough to meet the equivalent electricity needs of over 9,000 UK homes. Fighting climate change is one of The Co-operative Group’s community investment priorities with projects such as Green Energy for Schools and Walking Buses working to address the issue.
Recycling We collect all old point of sale material from all of our branches on a twelve week cycle to ensure that the vast majority of the point of sale material that we produce is recycled. Last year 286 tonnes of travel brochures, paper, card and plastic were removed from our branches, which is enough to fill 14,000 20kg suitcases! We work closely with tour operators to ensure that they donâ€™t send us unnecessary quantities of brochures. Our branch managers monitor deliveries from operators closely and report any infringements. All of our point of sale material is printed on stock that has a minimum of 85% recycled material or has come from FSC accredited sources. Our branches no longer provide plastic carrier bags for customers to transport their brochures. Instead, our branches now sell re-usable fair-trade cotton bags.
Registered Address. Co-operative Group Travel Limited, New Century House, Manchester, M60 4ES