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We’ve been building exceptional lodging recycling & waste management programs for over 35 years. Here’s 9 key secrets we’ve unearthed that’ll build the green brand you’ve always wanted for your resort and save you money in the process.
Let’s start with the facts.
Hotels are chief consumers of resources, and they contribute immensely to the generation of waste:
- According to Open Access Government, hotels produce, on average, 320,000 tons of waste each year
- According to a 2018 study conducted by the Global Journal of Environmental Science and Management, the waste composition of 120 surveyed hotels was identified by 58.5% for biodegradable waste (food waste), 25.8% for recyclables and 15.7% for others.
- The same study also revealed that the implementation status of waste management practices of the hoteliers initially reaped quite positive achievements with 76% for sorting, 39% for recycling, 29% for reduction, and 0.8% for composting.
In the era of the Green Economy, it’s essential for every hotel and resort to have an effective waste management program in place. An effective program focuses on reducing waste, reusing useful materials and recycling them. Ineffective lodging programs tend to generate a lot of waste, require regular maintenance and expensive waste disposal. Bearing these things in mind, let’s take a look at 9 key ways to enhance the effectiveness of your resort waste management program.
- Always begin with a preliminary waste audit to categorize and quantify your lodging waste
Step one of building a successful waste management program for any industry begins with identifying and categorizing the types and quantity of waste produced by every segment of your grounds. Use a map of your grounds to identify key areas (i.e rooms, recreational areas, offices, restaurants, etc.) and begin to identify what types of waste is being generated in each area.
For example, front-office waste (like papers, documents, brochures), household waste in rooms (cans, bottles, cardboard), and organic waste from restaurants (vegetable and fruit peels, flowers) can be separated into custom, color-coded bins for easy stream identification and simple waste disposal that minimizes contamination.
- Build a Green Team
How much time does your resort facilities management team have to spare for sustainability initiatives?
If the answer is less than you would like, a green team can be the most valuable ally in your quest for building an effective recycling program.
A Green Team is a small group of employees whose combined goal is to educate, empower and inspire colleagues to establish and promote environmentally sustainable practices within their organization. Every new initiative needs a full launch campaign and a group of influencers that will help build the momentum of your program. Without a green team, it will be very difficult to get your new waste management program off the ground.
To setup your green champions for long term success, make sure this group has formal oversight, tools for measurement and verification, and a clear mission.
- Communicating your program to your guests is essential
Because your guests don’t spend every day of the year at your resort, they may not be aware of how your recycling & waste management program operates. This means you have seconds to educate your guests about the materials you’re collecting and how they’re separated into specific streams.
Start with your recycling stations! Make sure your recycling & waste labels on your containers are clear and easy to understand. Many resorts have people visiting from all parts of the globe that speak many different languages. Use impactful graphics with clearly identifiable images of typical items that can be discarded and standardize these graphics, so they’re consistent throughout your resort.
Get everyone on board with your program by telling everyone about it! Communicate and educate staff about the resort’s goals and the sustainability initiatives so they can pass the knowledge onto your guests.
- Modify your operational habits
The daily operation of your hotel provides you with an excellent testing ground for some of the waste management techniques.
Reducing the amount of waste begins with modifying little things. Here’s some examples to get your creative juices flowing:
- Switch to refillable dispensers for cleaning products in every room.
- Use dishware to serve meals instead of disposable plates. This not only reduces the waste, but elevates your brand in the process.
- Instead of selling bottled water, install water fountains on each floor.
- Avoid paper products other than toilet paper in the bathrooms.
- Using LED bulbs instead of regular ones automatically means fewer replacements since LED bulbs last up to 10 times longer.
- In-room recycling programs can be a significant source of cost savings
Every room counts! One may assume the seemingly small amount of waste generate in each room is insignificant compared to waste generated at central, high-traffic locations across the grounds. Not true!
Kimpton Hotels — the company behind 70 Park Avenue in New York and the EPIC Hotel in Miami — has saved about $267,300 a year through the in-room recycling programs that have been in place across the chain since 2004. In an interview with the NY Times, Niki Leondakis, COO for Kimpton mentioned, “Just cardboard recycling alone ranges from $12,000 to $20,000 a year in savings,”
According to Kimpton’s website, the chain reduces its trash at its 47 hotels by more than 40% through recycling alone.
- Ditch single-use plastics
From the Hilton vowing to remove all plastic straws by the end of 2018, to the Marriott replacing the individually offered toiletries with reusable dispensers, hotels and resorts are tackling every facet of their operations to find ways to reduce their plastic usage. These changes have a large positive impact on the environment and lead to a significant reduction in waste management costs (i.e time spent collecting litter and waste tipping fees).
- Re-evaluate Disposal Habits
Not long ago, waste removal was mostly built around collecting co-mingled materials and sending the waste to landfills, where it was incinerated or compacted by waste disposal companies. These days, however, you can take an active role in managing part of the process.
Food waste is a single largest waste stream in a hotel and fortunately there’s a new crop of haulers that focus solely on organics/compost collection that will gladly collect your food waste, often at reduced costs. And if that’s not an option, you can always invest in food composters to reduce the binned waste generated by food leftovers.
- Choose the right recycling stations
There’s a plethora of factors you need to consider when purchasing containers to suit each space around your grounds—too many to cover in this blog! However, as a start, if you want your lodging recycling & waste program to be successful, it’s imperative that you choose containers that keep all of the collection streams together, regardless of their location across your grounds.
For example, if there isn’t a recycling or compost stream directly next to the trash stream, people just end up tossing all their waste in the most convenient bin—the closest one. This leads to enormous amounts of contamination, which can derail your sustainability goals due to your recycling and compost often ending up in the landfill rather than being properly sorted at your Material Recovery Facilities (MRF).
Quickly, some other things to consider when choose the right recycling & waste station are:
- Restrictive Openings
- Signage & Label Customization Capabilities
- Set sustainability standards for your vendors
You should have complete control of the high-quantity materials entering your facilities (i.e single-use plastics, soaps, food packaging, etc.). Communicating standards to your vendors and choosing more sustainable alternatives will have a large impact on the quantity of waste and therefore your disposal costs.
Start your resort waste management program off on the right foot by taking advantage of these 9 industry secrets! Once you’ve launched your lodging recycling & waste management program, you’ll start to see many more areas for improvement. These minor or major improvements will continue to increase your diversion rate and positive impact on the environment, reduce your costs and ultimately enhance brand loyalty with your guests.
Need help getting started? Contact us to chat with our Resort Waste Management Specialists for more direction on where to begin your journey to waste management greatness.