Four Key Areas of Waste Management in the Hotel Industry

By Michael Hess Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Waste Harmonics | October 28, 2018

A haven for road warriors, a temporary home for traveling families, a site for trade shows and conferences-hotels are all of these things and so much more. With hotel visitors coming from all over the map for all sorts of reasons, it's important to keep your eye on your hospitality facilities waste output. For most people, waste is waste no matter the shape or size and, in the end, it all winds up in the dumpster. But for the smart hotel owner and operator, that's not always the case. Working with a proper waste broker, knowing where your hotel waste comes from and identifying key areas to focus on can greatly increase your operational cleaning efficiencies while simultaneously reducing time and stress, and helping you save costs. While there is a myriad of facets to hotel waste management, here are four key areas of waste management that are worthy of immediate attention.

1.    The Guest Room

From the travelers and tourists hanging out in a brand-new location to the businessmen and women pitching clients far from the home office, when it comes to waste, the first key area to focus on is the guest room. Day in and day out, the constant rotation of guests leaves a new stash of trash and recyclables to be taken care of.

To manage the ever-present waste associated with the guest room, pay attention to the everyday occurrences. Start with the basics, like what's being thrown away in the bedroom, bathroom and living area. It's unlikely that what's being disposed of in each room bears a striking resemblance to what's being thrown out in the room next door. The same holds true for what's being recycled. Most hotel rooms are set up in a similar fashion with amenities laid out for guests' convenience. Knowing what's typically left for cleaning after each departure allows you to make a game plan to clean each room in a similar fashion, creating a streamlined waste stream from the guest room.

Having a plan for how to handle the most obvious area of waste is a simple way to increase your waste management efficiencies while driving down costs. The less time you need to take care of the waste generated by each vacated room, the less money you'll spend. The old adage that time is money holds a lot of weight in the world of waste. Work with a waste broker to create a streamlined process for handling waste versus recycling and, while you're at it, make sure to take note of the costs of management. Different items such as used shampoo bottles or food scraps will cost various amounts to dispose of or recycle. If there's a plan in place to consolidate these potentially pricey throwaways, you can rest assured you're not wasting time and money with a clunky cleaning process.

One way to increase your guest-room efficiencies is to have a hotel recycling program. For example, certain waste brokers offer unique recycling programs that offer delivery and pickup of the recycled items, including reusing as many items as possible. These recycling boxes can be taken to the next level with your hotel amenities by partnering with nonprofits-such as Clean the World, that gives soap and hygiene education to people in need by recycling discarded soap bars and plastic bottles and Sealed Air's Soap for Hope, a program that creates a way to reduce hotel waste by taking used soap bars and recycling them with specialized equipment creating cold-pressed fresh bars of soap to communities that need them most-that find alternative ways to reduce waste.

Finally, it's important to keep an eye on the numbers game in the guest room. In the end it's a numbers game that adds up quickly in the hotel operating industry. While your hotel may only have three conference rooms, their waste may not be a backbreaker, but inefficiency across 300 guest rooms can add up to a lot of headaches. By reviewing the ongoing reports from your waste broker, you'll be able to evaluate key areas to find efficiencies and save costs. Working with a waste broker to monitor and evaluate key numbers-like amount of waste in the guest room, cleanup time and kinds of waste-can help you set baseline goals for waste management time and cost. By setting up benchmarks and constantly striving for a more efficient process, any hotel can create an optimal guest-room experience while keeping waste management costs low.

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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.