If you own or manage a hotel you are probably already aware that the waste created from running a hotel goes beyond just what your guests leave behind. There is food waste from the hotel restaurant, the water, electricity and other resources spent in upkeep, and the general wear and tear of the items in your establishment.

    But, it is also easy to take steps to help reduce the amount of waste your hotel generates. Most of it involves simple actions that can have far reaching outcomes. Actions which will support the environment, community, and your own business as well. It’s time to watch your waste, and here are a number of ideas to get you going.

    Start With A Waste Audit.

    Unless you know where you are, you can’t work out where you’re going. If you’ve never done a waste audit, it is hard to have any idea of how much waste is being generated and where it is coming from. A good starting point is with an audit — How much rubbish is the business creating? How much of it is recyclable and how much of it is reusable? What parts of your hotel are creating the most waste? Once you’re able to answer these questions, you can start designing processes and systems to reduce, reuse and recycle.

    Put It To Your Guests

    One very simple tool to help your staff manage recyclables is by placing a recycle bin in the guests rooms. Most people want to help, and given the option, will do so. Also consider the kind of bin-liners your hotel uses — for guest rooms where bins are being changed daily, there are several eco-friendly, biodegradable varieties to choose from that are no more expensive than the standard types.

    Although they do grow on trees, the way you distribute newspapers is another small change that can make a big difference. Instead of placing them in every room, ask guests at check-in if they actually want a newspaper. Or, unless requested, only make them available in the lobby, bar or cafe. You’ll buy fewer papers which means less waste, less handling by staff and as a consequence, it will cost the business less.

    The Reality of Food Waste

    Commercial businesses are some of the biggest creators of food waste, but that also means that taking small steps can have a big impact. If you find that there’s a consistent pattern around plate-waste, reduce the portion size or consider making sides optional. There’s no point giving customers what they don’t want, nor making them feel guilty about having you throw out their food. Undertake a food waste audit and train your kitchen staff to speak up if they identify any patterns of waste. If there are certain items that reach spoiling before someone’s stomach — it might be time to rethink your menu. There are also a number of organisations who will take food you no longer want and pass it through to people who do.

    Bulk Up

    Although we all like the personal touch of single-use toiletries, consider the waste: all those plastic tubes and bottles that end up in landfill along with 80% of their contents. Installing bulk containers of soap, shampoo and conditioners turns that around overnight. Scandic Hotels reduced their waste volume by 40%, and 11 tonnes of packaging waste annually, in just this way. The same idea flows through to bulk-buying (non-toxic) cleaning products for refillable containers throughout the hotel.


    When the office computer or a guest’s TV goes on the blink, consider solutions other than tossing them in the garbage. Can they be repaired? Often they can, but it may not be cost-effective. Perhaps the supplier has a part-return policy in place. And remember that most councils will happily manage this process by sending unwanted machines for recycling on your behalf. Either way, you should have a strategy in place to handle e-waste. After all, you don’t want your hotel associated with contaminating the environment through toxic landfill.

    A few, easy adjustments to the way you run your hotel can boost profitability while doing people and the planet a massive favour. It’s a win-win-win, and who doesn’t want one of those?

    Danielle Ryans
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News Reporter

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