Waste Management Innovations for Your Hotel Chain

By Michael Hess Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Waste Harmonics | November 03, 2019

We live in a digital era fueled by connected devices and experiences. Stop and take a look around you. What do you see? There are likely a variety of smart technology advancements surrounding you: smartphones, smartwatches, smart cars, smart locks, smart thermostats and so much more. The Internet of Things (IoT) has completely transformed the way we live, work and play – and will continue to do so moving forward.

This very concept funnels directly into the waste management industry. Enter the "internet of trash," where technology is designed to help you solve your waste and recycling challenges while making your program more efficient and sustainable for the long term. New innovations can help you keep your hotel waste program in tip-top shape and positively impact your bottom line.

Before we jump into advances that are changing the way your hotel can approach waste management, it's important to recognize that every hotel is different. There are many instances in life when "one size fits all" works just fine-think watches or baseball hats-but in waste management, a customized approach works best.

You work hard to ensure every guest has an exceptional experience every time they choose your hotel, and making sure your waste management program is in order should be a top priority. Whether you're a regional hotel leader, a multi-national chain or a hotel management company, any technology solution should be customized to your unique needs. This is the best way to ensure you have the most efficient and cost-effective waste and recycling solution.

Audit Your Waste Streams

Do you know how much waste your hotel is producing? And what kinds? Or how much you're spending on hauling fees? The best way to get a good handle on all of these things is to do a waste audit. A waste audit results in a thorough examination of the amount and type of waste your hotel is producing, as well as the sources of the waste.

What it all comes down to is that not all waste is created equal. And disposal options and costs can vary greatly. Here are a few examples and questions to consider:

  • Let's say you're upgrading your hotel rooms and you're looking to recycle old chairs and mattresses. Are you using more than one vendor to get rid of the items? How much are they charging? How many trips do they have to make? Can this process be simplified and save you money?
  • Or maybe you're wondering how to manage the waste within your lobby. It's important to pay attention to the everyday occurrences and patterns within this area, especially given the amount of foot traffic from guests. What's being thrown away most near the reception area?
  • And the bathroom? Are there items that can be recycled? These questions can help you craft a strategy to tackle any opportunities for improvement to streamline waste coming from the lobby. This will also help ensure your space is free of overflowing trash or recycling receptacles to create the best welcoming atmosphere for guests.?

Capturing qualitative and quantitative waste data from across your hotel chain or operation enables you to reduce waste, identify new opportunities for recycling and food waste programs, and target organization-wide training programs to maximize diversion. A comprehensive look into your waste streams will set the stage for future practices and allows you to develop a program that functions exactly to your specific needs-and may even save you money.

Remote Tracking System

Auditing the waste and recycling data is the first step, but one of the best benefits is realized by continuously monitoring your waste data. This is where a remote tracking system comes in. Monitoring your waste management data across your hotel can help you keep an eye on your waste streams, along with how much waste and recycling you're generating-especially as guest attendance ebbs and flows with the change of seasons, holidays and special events.

Some of today's waste tracking options offer remote access as part of the package. This is critical, as it allows you to get a 24/7 real-time glimpse into your waste program. This type of disposal machine monitoring functions via a secure, cloud-based connection that uses sensor technology to measure critical waste equipment components and delivers key data back to a personalized dashboard designed specifically for your hotel. It can capture data such as fullness, oil temperature, container connections, safety features, operating performance, switching controls and more.

The system will help automate a lot of the stressors when it comes to waste management (pickup, service, etc.), which means no more doing things the old-fashioned way when you're implementing analytics-driven efforts. It will also be able to provide you with updates and email notifications-such as fullness, compactor pickup/return, predictive maintenance and much more-so you can stay in tune with your waste program. They typically operate on a private, secure machine-to-machine network so you don't have to worry about any special equipment as part of setup.

If you own multiple hotels, you know that sometimes you have to coordinate with several haulers at once, resulting in increased paperwork and labor. But this type of cloud-based system can help you streamline that by being the single point of contact and consolidating all invoices from each hauler while also customizing the billing process to fit your specific needs.

One of the key factors to keep in mind is that you don't have to walk this new territory alone. Working with a managed service provider to monitor and evaluate key numbers and activities like the above examples can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your current program and find other ways to maximize efficiencies. A provider can work closely with you to tailor the waste management platform so it captures key data, tracks it and generates detailed reports so you can make sure you're hitting your waste management goals. Working with a managed service provider can help streamline your processes and ultimately reduce costs.

An important consideration when looking for a waste management partner is to remember that most waste management companies offer upfront savings when you begin a program. Be sure your partner is also able to provide continuous improvement regularly to ensure your waste program is where it should be all year.

Sustainability Options

Today, more people and organizations seek out hotels and conference centers that can demonstrate an environmental mindset that goes beyond simply requesting that guests reuse towels. We're talking about maximizing waste and recycling programs at every level-from recycling plastic shampoo bottles to identifying zero-landfill and philanthropic donation options. Your guests will appreciate your commitment to sustainability, and you'll appreciate the savings.

Achieving a fully sustainable program will take time and commitment from stakeholders inside and outside your hotel, as well as using unconventional approaches in waste management and reduction. For example, capturing food that is thrown into traditional trash receptacles is a huge opportunity. Or, items outside of the traditional trash stream-such as linens, toiletries, bed springs and electronics-typically have room for program improvements.

Many hotels are looking for ways to reduce and minimize the amount of waste going to landfills; however, traditional recycling services are not always a feasible or cost-effective option for hotels that are smaller or have lower volumes. But there are options for smaller hotels, too. Some companies offer recyclable containers that they'll send directly to your hotel; once it's full, you can ship it back to them and they'll process the shipment directly to a recycling facility for you.

Additionally, hotels are even seeking zero-landfill opportunities-and today it's more of a reality than ever before. In combination with donating and customized recycling, partnering with Waste-to-Energy providers allows you to achieve zero-landfill opportunities. Achieving a landfill waste diversion rate of 100%, especially with amenities recycling, used to be an unachievable goal but is now well within reach.

One key factor to keep in mind if you're interested in implementing a zero-landfill strategy is to start small. It's not something that is going to happen overnight. Small steps, like donating old couches, TVs and dressers or putting recycling receptacles in rooms so guests can recycle their amenities, will go a long way in your efforts to be a zero-landfill hotel. It will take time and planning with your staff and guests to fully realize the potential, as well as address any pain points along the way.

By taking advantage of the technology-driven waste and recycling systems available today, you can simplify one part of your behind-the-scenes operation that is critical to your bottom line. Work with a managed service provider to review program data, evaluate where your internal team can improve or find efficiencies, and help save costs overall. By using that data, you can implement a waste-saving system with set priorities and goals while continuing to evaluate and fine-tune your process for the best results.

Mr. Hess Michael Hess is founder and chief executive officer of Waste Harmonics, a Rochester, New York-based company that provides customized waste and recycling management solutions for businesses across North America. Waste Harmonics is a unique waste management company providing service brokering in the waste industry. The company manages waste contracts and third-party vendors, and ultimately helps customers with what every business develops: waste. Customized program solutions address waste generator expectations and requirements, dealing with single-source management of service suppliers, quality of service, reduction of costs, data and reporting analytics, consolidated invoicing and landfill diversion. These unique service solutions create value for customers by continuously supporting their ongoing efforts to improve economic and environmental performances. Mr. Hess leads Waste Harmonics' team of waste/recycling, technology, logistics and customer service experts who broker waste and recycling services - which deliver significant costs savings - for single- and multi-location businesses in a wide range of business categories, including retail, grocery, restaurant, travel center, logistics, distribution and shipping. Michael Hess can be contacted at 585-924-9640 or mhess@wasteharmonics.com Extended Biography

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Hotel Newswire is a newswire service that distributes press releases on behalf of our users. If you decide to submit a press release for distribution through our system we will transmit your entire press release including any personal information therein contained to our media contacts and online distribution points including search engines. This is the only redistribution of your information that we engage in. Your submission of press releases through our system indicates consent with this policy. The information we collect during your registration process is used to notify users about updates to our service and inform users of any special events hosted by Hotel Newswire. This information is not shared with other organizations for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Cookies: Our system requires the use of cookies to enable the user to log back into our website to access information from the newswire, without having to log in each time using the required username and password.

If you do not want to receive email from us in the future, please let us know by following instructions included in our communication with you. Users who supply us with telephone numbers online may receive telephone contact from us regarding their account, or informing them of new products and services available on the HotelExecutive website. If you do not wish to receive such telephone calls, please edit your account and remove your phone number from your account profile. This can be done from your user account menu.

Ad Servers: We do not partner with or have any relationship with any ad server companies. From time to time, we may use customer information for new uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at any time, we will post the policy changes to our website to notify you of these changes and provide you with the ability to opt out of these new uses. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at our website periodically.

Upon request we provide site visitors with access to all information (including proprietary information) that we maintain about them. Users can access this information by logging in to their account.

Security: We always use industry-standard encryption technologies while transferring and receiving user data exchanged with our site. We have appropriate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of information that we have collected from you on our site. We do not store credit card information in our systems.

If you feel that this site is not following its stated information policy, you may contact us.

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Zoe Connolly

What does biophilic design look like? What does it feel like? Where is biophilic design most prevalent, how is it deployed, and what are the potential benefits of a well-executed biophilic design scheme? Jasmine St. Clair, Vice President of Design and Construction for Prism Hotels and Resorts discusses the growing popularity and prevalence of biophilic design principles rooted deeply in our past, how we have lost the organic connection to design with a modernized approach and what the growing future of biophilic design looks like. She outlines how successful hotels are utilizing the age-old design style to incorporate beautiful multisensory, immersive and soothing spaces guests can enjoy. Read on...

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Coming up in December 2019...

Hotel Law: A Labor Crisis and Cyber Security

According to a recent study, the hospitality industry accounted for 2.9 trillion dollars in sales and in the U.S. alone, was responsible for 1 in 9 jobs. In an industry of that scope and dimension, legal issues touch every aspect of a hotel's operation, and legal services are required in order to conform to all prevailing laws and regulations. Though not all hotels face the same issues, there are some industry-wide subjects that are of concern more broadly. One of those matters is the issue of immigration and how it affects the ability of hotels to recruit qualified employees. The hotel industry is currently facing a labor crisis; the U.S. Labor Department estimates that there are 600,000 unfilled jobs in the industry. Part of the problem contributing to this labor shortage is the lack of H2B visas for low-skilled workers, combined with the difficulty in obtaining J-1 visas for temporary workers. Because comprehensive immigration reform is not being addressed politically, hotel managers expect things are going to get worse before they get better. Corporate cyber security is another major legal issue the industry must address. Hotels are under enormous pressure in this area given the large volume of customer financial transactions they handle daily. Recently, a federal court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission had the power to regulate corporate cyber security, so it is incumbent on hotels to establish data security programs in order to prevent data breaches. The lack of such programs could cause hotels to face legal threats from government agencies, class action lawsuits, and damage to their brand image if a data breach should occur. These are just two of the critical issues that the December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine in the area of hotel law.