Top 10 Hotel Amenity Recycling Strategies

By Michael Hess Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Waste Harmonics | September 16, 2018

The uniqueness of your hotel's offerings helps your property stand out in a crowded hospitality marketplace, but could result in additional headaches when considering the best way to dispose of these goods. Hotel guests adore the varied accoutrements offered by accommodations big and small around the globe. But keeping an edge on in-room swag results in other considerations and complications-even when it comes time to trash the discarded leftovers. What are the most cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly practices when recycling amenity items guests leave behind? Here are 10 of the best ways to recycle.

1.    Thoroughly evaluate your recycling needs

Audit, audit, audit. How do you know what your needs are if you don't understand your waste output? Hotels can recycle an incredible number of amenities. A waste audit results in a thorough examination of the amount and type of waste hotels produce, as well as the source of the waste. Not all waste is created equal-your amenities may cost much more to transport and recycle. A thorough look at your practices and needs sets the baseline for future practices and allows hoteliers to tailor programs to the personalized needs of hotel properties. The type of recycling program you need is unique not only to your industry, but to your specific property. It's worth the investment up front to implement cost savings by evaluating your recycling efforts.

2.    Continuously monitor and evaluate

Not only are your waste needs unique, they also change with the seasons, just like your guests. Auditing your waste is the first step, but the real benefit comes from a continuous monitoring of a hotel owner and operator's waste output. Arguably the most oversimplified and overlooked aspect of recycling, metrics allow you to capture essential information throughout the entire process. So hoteliers will be able to understand the flow of amenity recycling from start to finish as long as you decide to evaluate it. Whether guests are recycling shampoo bottles, mouthwash containers, water bottles, newspapers or other items, the type and amount of waste fluctuates throughout time and should be closely examined so your recycling is optimized.

Partnering with a provider that will use metrics and measurements to evaluate waste flow over time is a game changer when it comes to reducing costs (and your environmental footprint). In addition, some waste solutions even include the monitoring of your entire waste system-temperature, controls and connections, safety features, performance, fullness and more. As a result, the provider can calibrate your equipment and service to your exact needs. Plus, with an increasing number of vendors taking advantage of the Internet of Things, simply renting a "smart" compactor allows hotel owners and operators to take advantage of a completely integrated product tailored to your program, with remote monitoring included.

For hoteliers who decide to monitor their recycling process, there are business platforms that capture cost reduction, track it and generate reports for recycling productivity. Remember, most waste management companies offer nice upfront savings when beginning a program. You should partner, however, with a provider that offers continuous improvement on an ongoing basis and the reporting to support it.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.