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When it comes to taking care of the environment, the hotel industry has long considered themselves to stand apart from other types of businesses. Because of the diversity of functions and staff positions, the endless 24-hour operations schedule, and the immediacy of good service, hotels tend to have a hard time separating recyclable waste from their trash. In recent years hotel owners and management have become more focused on waste management prgrams.

Recycling success oftentimes means providing the right incentives for managers and staff as well as taking advantage of ideas and resources that are otherwise ignored or underutilized. In addition there is usually a vast amount of community support and partnerships that can help greatly with achieving waste reduction and recycling goals.

The hotel industry is seeing the benefits to the bottom line through initial recycling programs. Hotels that have used the enthusiasm of their staffs have seen significant rewards, from a hotel in San Diego, California which cut its costs by over 50% in only two months, to a 300-room hotel in Miami which diverts 150 tons of waste a month, reducing costs by 60%. Hotels are making recycling efforts successful, and they are making money at it.

For anyone in the hotel industry looking to make a difference commercially, read on.

Recycling Tips

By creating a successful hotel recycling project the rewards will outweigh the initial start up work. What can a hotel expect to benefit? Resulting cost savings, good company PR, and employee incentives are all worth the effort.

If the benefits are outstanding then why is that a majority of hotels still have not joined the recycling movement? The easiest answer may be the difficulty in coordinating a program that spans across so many layers. Hotels employ a great number of people in different areas of operations that handle waste disposal. Here are tips to soothe the craftiest recycling naysayers.

  • Keep employees informed about the best recycling procedures by issuing memos and periodically reviewing procedures.
  • Monitor procedures on a regular basis to make sure that proper routines have become habit and continue to educate as is necessary.
  • Carefully track the volume and types of recyclables that are being processed at your facility.  Not only does this serve as a check and balance for the compensation you are to receive but it will also prompt you to sudden changes in data.
  •  With each new hire provide a recycling information packet that serves as a guide and orientation for your waste processing routines.  
  • Once policies have been implemented, continue to refine the processes and routines by encouraging feedback from your employees, especially those who are most involved in the waste processing operations.
  • Always encourage feedback from employees for suggestions or observations as a means of continuing to improve waste management and recycling programs. Periodically designate a few trusted employees to be the eyes and ears for management in pinpointing areas where participation or ciooperations is not taking place by departments or certain staff members.  Then speak with those who are not participating or cooperating to determine if they understand the importance of the programs and the desired procedures.

Waste Reduction Tips

A hotel's waste stream is as varied as it is large. In addition to trash that is typically hauled to the landfill such as food waste and mixed trash,there is also quite a bit of recyclables such as paper, cardboard and PET.  Just like in most other industries the hotel industry also has a typical waste profile that is failry common.  There is a lot of food waste similar to residential communities.

Although the hotel industry has its own typical waste profile there are also many reasons why it can vary from chain to chain or even hotel to hotel within the same corporate structure. The reasons for differences in waste profiles are too vast to mention but basically it all centers around how the hotels get their business, manage their business and grow their business. A hotel on the beach or in a resort area has a different set of circumstances than a Hotel in the country.  Hotels without restaurants would obviously have a much different waste profile than those with restaurants.  The variables for deviation of waste profiles are unlimited however the typical waste profile will generally be the same among hotels in the same markets and similar management styles.

Tips for a hotel to get started in creating a waste reduction program:

  • Hotel management should perform an easy waste review. Walk through your hotel or motel noting what type of waste is discarded in each area. This will help you determine which types of containers are needed. Typical waste management programs are likely to involve some of the following:
    • Administrative : High Quality Paper, Mixed Paper, Cardboard, bottles, cans and printer toner cartridges.
    • Food service areas :  Cans, plastic containers, glass, cardboard, cans and other metals.
    • Public areas : Magazines, newspaper, bottles and cans.
  • Based on the results of the waste assessment, set up appropriate recycling programs in all areas.
  • In addition, make sure that all receptacles and bins are well-marked for guests and staff to use. For public areas, it is best to choose receptacles and bins that have specialized openings, such as a hole for bottles and cans or a slot for newspapers. The placement of receptacles and bins should also be in locations that are convenient for recycling (and overall waste processing) which is usually on each floor near exits and elevators.  
  • Emphasize areas where it is critical to seperate certain types of waste from each other such as the seperation of yard waste and food waste from  other waste.  Food waste can be composted. 
  • Obtain pointers from the hauler and recycler..

So can the hotel industry overcome obstacles to recycling and waste management? The answer is yes and it lies in the steps to success outlined in this article. Just remember these keys:

  1. Employee education;
  2. Management commitment to the recycling program;
  3. Hands-on monitoring of programs set in place;
  4. User-friendly systems such as using clearly labeled containers and visually unique bins for collecting recyclables (e.g., specially colored bins); and
  5. Make sorting recyclables part of every hotel employee's job description.

Hotels which utilize their solid waste programs and think pro actively for solutions with clear goals will make the most of recycling opportunities and reap environmental benefits for everyone involved


Contributor / Editor - Matt Kennedy - Refer questions to info@wastecare.com

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