10 Recycling Tips & Strategies for Hotels

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.

3.    Use a customized recycling service

Hoteliers take pride in offering a special experience for their guests. In return, there are recycling providers specialized for low-volume or hotel amenity needs. For example, some companies offer on-demand solutions that allow recycling to take place at locations that wouldn’t normally be able to divert their materials cost-effectively. For a set fee, they’ll ship a box to you. Once it’s full, you’ll ship it back and it will be recycled.

In addition, others provide programs specific to amenities. They’ll usually accept empty hotel shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, mouthwash and aftershave(?) bottles. Once collected, the bottles are separated before they’re molded into new recycled plastic products. Make sure your bottles are clean; dirty bottles cannot be recycled.

4.    Make sure you consolidate

Consolidating recycling efforts helps lower the number of invoices to verify, process and pay. Many hotel owners and operators may have multiple properties and a variety of recycling needs (depending on the amenities they offer), but partnering with a broker or a provider will streamline your processes and ultimately reduce costs. (And headaches!)

A broker provides a centralized source, tailoring solutions that manage quality of service, reduction of costs, data and reporting analytics, and consolidated billing. By working with a broker, you can manage your waste system much easier (and cleaner).

5.    Consider donating extra supplies

Donating is always an option and offers hotel operators a philanthropic recycling option. There are nonprofits around the world looking to reuse amenities for a worthy cause. For example, Clean the World offers a hotel recycling program that uses discarded soap bars and plastic bottles to save lives by giving people in need access to soap and hygiene education. Plus, it helps you reduce waste, protect the environment, preserve natural resources and reduce costs.

Remember, items beyond amenities can be donated, as well. Think conference goods, used furniture, food and more.

6.    Make small changes

Remember, don’t try to make big changes all at once. To see stronger results, plan your implementation incrementally. Start with the audit, then measurement, and then select customized programs. And after you’re satisfied with your amenities recycling, move on to bigger goals, such as zero landfill (or nearly 100% diversion). If you start with one department at a time, you’ll be more likely to be able to implement new programs and ideas. Plus, getting leadership involved and spreading out costs, trainings and changes is a huge plus when spending is a concern.

7.    Identify zero-landfill opportunities

Zero landfill is becoming available to more markets 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.

If you’re interested in diverting 100% of your waste beyond amenities from the landfill, consider starting small. For example, you could make the goal of hosting a zero-landfill conference or a zero-landfill weekend. Require that no paper materials be given out, guests recycle their amenities and no disposables (bottled water, plastic cups, etc.) are used. This will give your staff a chance to identify possible opportunities and pain points, and allows you to move beyond amenities recycling.

8.    Encourage guests to get involved

Guests like to see hotels “going green.” If you haven’t already, consider placing recycling bins in rooms and develop signage encouraging amenities recycling. (If you decide to donate, make sure to mention where you donate to.) True cost reduction and diversion moves beyond simply placing bins where guests can see them, but it’s a start. Even providing recycling suggestions could make the difference for a guest. In addition, if you decide to go big with your recycling (and reducing) program, consider programs such as composting paper towels and toilet paper or eliminating disposables from the dining area.

9.    Get staff involved

Action starts with hotel staff. Consider in-room sorting by housekeeping, especially if you do not have separate recycling bins. Housekeeping can capture recyclable amenities bottles and can help with your bigger recycling and diversion goals.

In addition, encouraging staff investment can make a program a success. Try establishing a green team for your efforts, or even a weekly staff meeting to educate and evaluate successes. Your staff, like your guests, should know the benefits of recycling and may want to encourage sustainability and environmental practices at your hotel.

10.     Have a great partner in your recycling needs

You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to amenities recycling. Recycling partnerships provide more options and better programs for companies looking to up their game while decreasing their costs.

Additionally, community members are looking for the hospitality industry to be a good corporate citizen. There may be needs for your amenities, or other materials, right in your own backyard. Get involved with local recycling initiatives, and understand the giving landscape of your region so you can make the best decisions when donating.

Finally, looking to other hotels in the area could also be beneficial to you. Partnering on low-volume amenities recycling, or other initiatives, can lower your overall cost.

Reducing waste related to amenities should be a high priority for hotels. Instead of ending up in the landfill, costing you time and money, amenities (and other hotel waste) can be recycled or donated to see a second life. Above all else, making incremental changes will lead you to success, no matter your route.

Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from www.HotelExecutive.com