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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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.