Innovative Waste Management Technology for the Hotel Industry

You work hard to be a go-to destination for tourists and business travelers. But attracting more visitors also results in increased waste, which greatly impacts your bottom line (and the environment). When managing your properties’ waste output, how can your team lower your environmental footprint while keeping costs low and efficiencies high? The answer is in the data: Taking advantage of the newest technology will help your cost savings—and your sanity.

Make a Connection with the Cloud

You face waste difficulties whether you own a boutique hotel or a worldwide luxury hotel chain. When it comes to implementing innovative technology to manage your waste and your environmental impact, start small. Going micro will allow you to start employing tech even in the planning stages of implementation. It’s isn’t always about the action—proper preparation leads to success when going a new route. Consider how much cost goes into throwing away food, amenities and other waste by evaluating how much you’re currently paying for hauling, landfill and environmental fees, cost of equipment and more, in addition to how your waste treatment impacts landfill use and other environmental issues.

After you calculate, you likely can reduce costs by partnering with a waste broker to customize the best approach to waste management through new innovations. For instance, many waste management brokers use cloud-based systems to aid in vendor bidding. So the very first step in taking advantage of new tech is to use it when finding a partner to further revolutionize your process.

There are thousands of vendors available for your specific needs—how do you sort through them all? Brokers will work with their network to provide competitive costs using a cloud vendor bidding system. This system allows you to post a United States or Canadian-based RFP to thousands of vendors. Using a cloud platform ensures your property has access to competitive rates across North America, and great brokers will provide an easily accessible customer portal that allows you to manage and monitor the bidding process.

Through their web-based network, brokers can recruit waste hauling business options, eliminate additional fees and surcharges, keep track of service levels and costs—as well as market analysis and seasonal fluctuations—and manage the right-sizing and cost savings of your program through hidden opportunities and the reduction of inefficiencies.

In addition, brokers will use their cloud-based network to connect you to recycling partnerships, which result in the optimization of your waste management. Partners provide customers with more options and better programs, such as zero waste (aka waste-to-energy, generating energy or fuel from waste) programs, as well as small- and large-stream recycling programs for those with specialized needs. These programs will save you money while reducing your environmental footprint and prioritizing sustainability.

Dig Deep with Data

How do you know what technology to employ without understanding your waste needs? Tracking, metrics and analytics aren’t just for sales goals. Implementing a tracking system using a cloud platform allows you to identify your current waste streams while determining how much waste you’re generating. As a result, you can reduce costs and increase your environmental benefits.

A good platform captures the cost reduction, tracks it, then generates reports on a regular basis, securing your cost savings over time instead of simply at the beginning of a relationship. And it automates a lot of the stressors when it comes to waste management—no more doing things the old-fashioned way when you’re implementing analytics-driven efforts. There’s no question what you’re producing or what you’ll need when a cloud-based platform provides portals for visibility into your transactions. You’ll understand your current waste spend, be able to access historical data on your program and receive a snap shot of all service insights, as well as ongoing statistics, which allows continuous evaluation and improvement of your program.

In addition, tracking allows you to set financial and environmental goals while evaluating your program’s performance. Not only do these efforts allow you to comply with state, local and federal regulations for proper disposal, but they can save you considerable time and money as you evaluate what’s working and what isn’t for your property’s personalized needs. Also, using technology to monitor waste reduces liability, cost and environmental impact through identifying and providing alternative solutions based on your current waste profile.

Ultimately, you don’t know what you don’t know. By using innovative technology to monitor and adjust your hotel’s waste program, you’ll enable significant financial and environmental benefits. Businesses in the hospitality sector that take a critical eye to their waste management can select services that fit their individual needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all program. If you’d like to better understand your waste-flow processes, employ an analytics-driven program.

Improve with the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t just for smart thermostats, lights and locks. As hotel and hospitality properties make moves to design smart guest rooms, the opportunities within the IoT space don’t stop there. Once you’ve partnered with a waste broker’s cloud-based program and/or have implemented an analytics-driven monitoring plan, taking your waste management to the next level with IoT is the natural subsequent step. Plus, IoT technology is especially useful for waste management because automated waste and recycling efficiencies often translate into cost and time savings, as well as sustainable practices.

Many waste management companies employ technology that goes beyond what is “fullness monitoring,” or keeping track of your recycling and waste output. Often, web-based monitoring services track, measure and optimize your waste and recycling processes. For example, an integrated trash-compactor monitoring service simplifies how you handle disposal machine monitoring, providing an access point for equipment, controls status and alarms—monitoring everything from the oil temperature to switching controls, safety features, container connections, system operating performance and, of course, fullness.

Waste management companies now even have partnerships with wireless carriers and machine-to-machine networks to create an entire industrial machine system without the purchase of additional technology—all the necessary parts are built into your smart compactor.

If you’re wondering how this technology would benefit your hotel, look no further than the most important aspect of your work—your guests. Not only can overflowing and poorly tended-to dumpsters ruin a customer’s line of sight and improperly represent your property, but a smart waste management system can control maintenance and pickups within hours that do not disturb sleeping customers—often reducing your pickups by 30%-40%. Plus, if a pickup is ever missed, your IoT provider will resolve the issue.

Or consider the flux that your busy season brings. Monitoring your output with a smart system allows a plan for increases in seasonal waste volume through a process of preparation, consultation and tracking. Plus, an IoT system is fully customized for your needs—whether it’s removing your in-house restaurant or bar’s waste, recycling unused amenities or reducing the environmental impact of renovations. Ultimately, an easily accessible IoT waste management system also decreases your carbon footprint while streamlining your monitoring waste stream.

Manage Your Multilocation Needs

If you’re a hotel chain, every location brings its individual challenges. Employing customized technology across your property portfolio allows you to streamline your franchisee or corporate holdings through data sharing and linking. Usually, hotel owners with multiple locations may have to coordinate with several haulers at once, resulting in increased paperwork. But a cloud-based monitoring system can result in the identification of a single point of contact, consolidating all invoices from each hauler while customizing the billing process to fit your specific needs, saving you time, energy and paper.

Plus, the economies of scale greatly impact your waste production and management. The larger your location, the more difficult and expensive it is to dispose of waste. On average, hotel guests generate approximately 2 pounds of waste per night, more than half from paper, plastic and cardboard. Combined with the environmental issues this waste causes through landfills, and as government regulation increasingly becomes stricter with landfill and recycling issues, waste becomes more and more costly and difficult to manage the larger your hotel chain becomes. However, waste disposal costs fall as the amount of waste you produce decreases, so employing technology can reduce costs on an even larger scale for your multilocation hospitality business.

In addition, the latest in waste-to-energy or waste-to-fuel technology can help you achieve zero landfill, which means your properties have achieved a landfill waste diversion rate of 100%. This is thanks to a variety of new techniques continually being honed and developed by environmental scientists, and a waste management company can directly connect you to these forward-thinking technological opportunities.

Take Advantage of Tech

You face waste management complications whether you manage a niche property or are the head of a global hotel group. Identifying challenges is unique within the hotel and hospitality sector, which requires support for everything from scarce time and resources to central tracking and system-wide issues. But taking advantage of innovative technologies will allow you to customize solutions, address your challenges and heighten awareness to improve your hotel’s overall performance.

Ultimately, employing data-driven programs will provide your hotel with valuable information and analysis while assisting your efforts to implement sustainable solutions, including recycling. From cloud-driven broker services to analytics-based monitoring and the deployment of an IoT-based multilocation system, there’s an opportunity to take advantage of innovative technology for every size hotel or hospitality in every location.

This article originally appeared on hotelexecutive.com and was written by Waste Harmonics Founder, President/CEO Mike Hess.

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