UK SERVICED ACCOMMODATION SECTOR
Estimated Annual Soap & Toiletry Waste (2014)
Below follows an extract from an original article posted on Green Hotelier’s website (November 2009):
Why reduce waste?
It is increasingly difficult and expensive to dispose of waste
A hotel guest generates about 1kg (2lb) of waste per night, more than half of it in paper, plastic and cardboard. In addition to negative environmental impact, as landfill capacity diminishes, so the cost of waste disposal becomes more expensive. In the UK, for example, landfilling costs are now £48 per tonne (1.1 tons) compared to £18 a tonne in 2005.
It creates huge environmental problems
Landfilling not only takes up valuable land space but causes air, water and soil pollution, discharging carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane into the atmosphere and chemicals and pesticides into the earth and groundwater. In addition, waste often has to travel long distances to the landfill site, consuming fuel and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
To meet tougher government legislation
National and local governments are introducing more stringent requirements with regards to waste disposal to landfill and recycling, and the hotel industry must respond to these high green standards.
It is an inefficient resource use
Often it is more resource-efficient to make new products by recycling rather than starting from scratch. For example, recycling used aluminium tins into new tins requires 95% less energy than processing bauxite ore into aluminium. Many discarded materials, such as furniture and food, also have value.
It makes good business sense
- When supplies are used more efficiently, it saves money on raw materials.
- Income can be generated by selling old equipment and reusing or recycling valuable waste materials.
- Waste disposal costs fall as the amount of waste you produce decreases.
Pat Maher, a former hotel executive now serving as an environmental consultant to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, says that good waste management and recycling is an effective public relations tool, because it shows a dedication to corporate responsibility with environmental policy. “Doing in-room recycling is important because the guest sees that,” he says. Also, by removing paper, plastic and other recyclables from their waste, hotels can trim their disposal bill by as much as 50% — a significant savings in cities where waste removal is expensive. “In New York City, it’s not unusual to have a $100,000-a-year waste bill,” says Maher, “and if you can cut that by $50,000, that’s a big deal to the operator of a hotel.”
Managing your waste in a sustainable manner
There are several options for managing your waste in a more sustainable manner and the waste hierarchy, outlined in the EU Waste Directive, provides a very useful routemap to encourage better practice:
- preparing for reuse;
- recycling (including composting);
- other recovery (including energy recovery); and
Business waste disposal is usually subject to different rules to household waste and you may not be able to use public amenity sites. Make sure you comply with waste legislation, including correctly handling waste, keeping the right documentation and only using licensed contractors.
Considerations when using a waste contractor
- Waste contractor costs can vary significantly so shop around.
- A good waste contractor will understand the complexities of waste management and be able to offer advice on the most environmentally friendly and cost-efficient methods of disposal.
- Compacting waste will reduce the number of collections required and may make storing easier so find out if it is sensible for your types of waste.
- Make sure you are charged for the weight of waste, not the number of collections.
- Ask about market fluctuations for certain waste types and the policy adopted when price falls.
- Find out whether the contractor will give you a percentage of the recycling profit.
1. Carry out a waste audit
Identify where the hotel is creating waste and quantify the recyclable materials that are currently discarded. For each department, list all the items you dispose of, the disposal method, the cost and the quantities involved.
2. Set priorities and goals
Once you’ve identified where to focus your efforts, set priorities and goals, such as ordering fewer supplies, reducing disposal costs or generating revenue from waste materials.
3. Implement the programme
Include staff at all stages so that they understand and support the scheme. Provide incentives and rewards to individuals who offer waste-saving ideas or make a significant contribution to the programme. Educate guests about your recycling and environmental policies and communicate your priorities to suppliers.
4. Monitor, evaluate and fine-tune
Set criteria for monitoring and evaluating the programme, and decide how frequently to measure progress. Areas you may want to evaluate include:
- savings in purchases;
- reduction in operating costs;
- reduction in disposal and recycling costs;
- increase in recycled-content purchases;
- increase in productivity; and
- reduction in total waste and recyclable materials.
Install recycling bins in guest rooms
Put two bins in guestrooms, one for general waste and one for recycling. The recycling one should be larger and specify which products can be placed in it. Housekeeping trolleys must be fitted with separate bins for collecting recyclable material.
Reuse old linen, towels and robes
Turn old linen into linen bags or aprons, and stained towels or robes into cleaning cloths, or donate these items to local charities. One UK company, Sleeping Bags Social Enterprise Ltd, uses retired linen from a Marriott hotel in London to make reusable shopping bags.
Reduce newspaper distribution
Provide newspapers in central areas, such as the lobby, and ask guests to request one at check-in if they want it delivered to their room. Last year, Marriott International stopped delivering newspapers to every guest room, and this environmental policy is saving an estimated 8m newspapers annually.
Buy in bulk and use eco-friendly alternatives
Buy non-toxic cleaning products in concentrate and in bulk to reduce packaging and costs, and choose suppliers who use reusable and refillable containers.
For toiletries, switch to dispensers and purchase bulk containers. The Scandic hotel chain found that only 15% of its soaps, shampoos and conditioners were used, with the balance thrown away. By replacing traditional amenities with bulk items, Scandic has reduced its waste volume by 40% and packaging waste by 11 tonnes annually. If individual toiletries are offered, encourage guests to take away their half-used soap, or donate toiletries to local shelters; there may be tax benefits available, too. Combining social and environmental responsibility with sustainable and responsible tourism, US foundation Clean the World picks up soap and shampoo from hotels, recycling them to distribute around the world.
Always buy environmentally friendly products. Room Service Amenities offers bottles made primarily from plastarch, a biodegradable corn-based material, while Green Suites International packages its toiletries in collapsible paper bottles. Vegware makes biodegradable products from plant materials, including tableware and takeaway packaging.
Reduce paper use
Replace tissues in bathrooms only when dispensers are almost empty. If the policy is to replace half toilet rolls, save them for use in employee restrooms or donate to shelters. Consider using double rolls, which provide twice as much paper per roll. Install handdryers in place of paper towels in toilets in public areas. In the office, recycle file folders and inter-office envelopes, use both sides of paper when copying, and send emails not letters.
Avoid hazardous and toxic waste
Avoid purchasing hazardous products in the first place. If you cannot, you are responsible for the safe and correct disposal of it so ensure you employ a licensed contractor. Fluorescent lights, for example, can be disposed of in a special crushing machine that recovers the glass for reuse in loft insulation and the mercury for pure mercury production. In the US, Marriott has teamed up with Air Cycle Corporation to recycle its fluorescent lamps using the Bulb Eater, a machine that crushes the lamps, packing them into an enclosed drum ready to be picked up.
Furniture and mattresses
Hotel refurbishment generates huge amounts of bulky waste, much of which can be recycled. Furniture can be sold to staff, donated to charity or taken to a furniture-recycling scheme. Alternatively, an experienced furniture refinishing company can reupholster and repurpose your furniture. Many companies collect and recycle old beds, mattresses and furniture.
At Whitbread’s Premier Inn hotels, mattresses are replaced every six years. Now, instead of sending 6,000 mattresses annually to landfill, Premier Inn has developed a new environmental policy and teamed up with bed manufacturer Hypnos, which has developed a machine to shred and separate mattress materials. Metal hinges and springs are recycled back into steel products, foam is reused in carpet underlay and textiles are recycled into insulation products or briquettes for industrial heating.
Flooring Ceramic and stone tiles can be crushed to make paths or used as an aggregate by the construction industry, while carpet and other flooring can be reused by a charity or returned to the supplier for recycling. US hotel group La Quinta Inns & Suites recently lowered its environmental impact by recycling 27 tonnes of carpet by working with Shaw Industries, a company that reclaims the fibres to make other carpet products.
Did you know?
- Up to 60% of the rubbish that ends up in the dustbin can be recycled.
- A recycled plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for three hours.
- 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials.
- Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose.
- Recycled paper produces 73% less air pollution than if it was made from raw materials.
- The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle will power a 100-watt light bulb for almost an hour