Sustainable Hotel Waste Management | RTSSustainable hotel waste management — How hospitality is tackling its waste problem - Recycle Track Systems (2023)

This summer, hotels across the US will begin to resume normality. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the hospitality industry particularly hard, and after 18 months of restrictions, hotels are ready to welcome guests back.

Sustainable Hotel Waste Management | RTSSustainable hotel waste management — How hospitality is tackling its waste problem - Recycle Track Systems (1)

While much of the hospitality industry was beginning to focus on more sustainable operations before the pandemic, today, there are new elements to consider as hotels must prioritize maintaining updated hygiene standards. Does this mean that single-use, single-serve is here to stay? What impact will PPE waste streams have on waste management within hotels, and can the industry find better ways to deal with them?

Convenience and service have always been at the core of hotels, and a focus on hygiene is an integral part of that. Unfortunately, this means large quantities of waste – from single-use shampoos and plastic-wrapped bathrobes to breakfast buffets that encourage indulgence. That said, hospitality may be better placed than other industries to deal with the robust measures put in place to protect guests and staff.

Sustainable hotel waste management can combat many of the problems hotels face, and with new challenges comes innovation. Today, balancing sustainability and hygiene is possible, and many hotels are finding ways to do this through new strategies and products. Here, we look at the problems faced by pre-pandemic hotels, how waste streams will change, and how hotels can adapt to a disrupted industry.

The COVID Factor

While there has been a positive trend towards sustainable hotel waste management, the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus could knock that off course. The pandemic has had a major impact on hotels and there is an entirely new stream of hotel waste – PPE.

Sustainable Hotel Waste Management | RTSSustainable hotel waste management — How hospitality is tackling its waste problem - Recycle Track Systems (2)PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is now commonplace across the world, but within hotels where so much attention was already paid to hygiene, often with single-use plastics, it could mean a huge step back. With international tourism only now beginning to pick up again, the full impact is yet to be seen, but there is no doubt that innovation will be needed to keep hotels on track.

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As an example, the days of buffet breakfasts may be numbered, and food waste could be significantly reduced through better managed single-portion servings that offer higher hygiene standards in today’s “new normal”. In addition, items such as reusable masks for staff can help reduce PPE waste, with multiple options now available and the WHO still approving the use of properly manufactured fabric masks.

Dealing with this new waste stream within hospitality, along with an influx of new guests as the industry opens up again, will require robust and comprehensive waste management systems and responsible recycling. Additionally, as the landscape begins to level out, flexible and adaptable systems that meet changing requirements will also be required to deal with both new and existing waste streams that are liable to fluctuate over time. Here, we look at the major elements of hotel waste and how they can be managed.

Single-use plastic waste in hotels

Plastic waste is a problem with serious consequences, whether that be microplastics in the food chain or the estimated $2.5trillion in damage and lost resources it causes to fisheries, aquaculture, recreational activities, and global wellbeing.

Sustainable Hotel Waste Management | RTSSustainable hotel waste management — How hospitality is tackling its waste problem - Recycle Track Systems (3)

While plastics might not represent the single largest waste stream for hotels, it has been the target of many operators’ sustainability efforts due to its ubiquity. Hotel bathrooms are particularly troublesome, with single-use products and plastic-wrapped cups, but the rest of the hotel room experience isn’t much better, often housing single-serve sachets with plastic-wrapped bathrobes and bagged pillows.

There are also less obvious examples, such as plastic hotel key cards. While reusable, they will end up in the trash eventually, and many end up broken or lost after a few uses.

Hotel food waste

Sustainable Hotel Waste Management | RTSSustainable hotel waste management — How hospitality is tackling its waste problem - Recycle Track Systems (4)

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Many hotels have in-house restaurants, whether for room service, bar food, or a silver service establishment. As with any restaurant, this can generate large quantities of food waste which, if not managed responsibly, will create a significant environmental impact.

Food is the single largest component of US landfills with roughly 80 billion pounds being thrown away each year in America. According to some estimates within tourism and hospitality, nearly half of the total waste produced by establishments is food. This is especially prevalent in hotels offering buffets, where plate waste (food that is left on guests’ plates) is a major problem.

Sustainable Hotel Waste Management | RTSSustainable hotel waste management — How hospitality is tackling its waste problem - Recycle Track Systems (5)

Guest waste at hotels

While not a waste stream per se, the trash that guests generate is an important consideration when looking at general hotel waste management. Unlike with a business such as a restaurant, for example, hotel operators have little to no control over what clients bring – and dispose of – in their establishment. Even the most stringent company policies on plastic and food could still leave a hotel having to deal with more waste than expected.

Why hotel waste management is changing

Sustainable Hotel Waste Management | RTSSustainable hotel waste management — How hospitality is tackling its waste problem - Recycle Track Systems (6)

One of the major factors driving a shift away from wasteful hospitality is consumer demand. Recent studies have found that over half of global travelers are now looking to travel more sustainably, and more than 60% of Americans are willing to spend more on sustainable products. Sustainable hotel waste management is not only essential for attracting guests but can also allow an operator to offset the costs through increased average daily rates.

Of course, it isn’t only consumer demand that is driving this change. Some hotel operators and owners are also becoming more eco-conscious and looking to push these changes through themselves. Additionally, there is an increasing number of government initiatives, whether plastic bans or broader carbon reduction policies, aimed at reducing waste and tackling climate change.

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Solutions to hotel waste Sustainable Hotel Waste Management | RTSSustainable hotel waste management — How hospitality is tackling its waste problem - Recycle Track Systems (7)

There are many ways to introduce better waste management into the hotel industry, and companies are taking steps to reduce some of the biggest contributors like plastics and food. As with any good waste management plan, the prevention of waste is the best solution, with the reuse and recycling of waste being secondary. There are now many examples of holistic hotel waste management being implemented.

Preventing plastic waste at hotels

Significant hotel chains have started to ban single-use plastics across the board. Rotana, for example, announced that it would remove all single-use plastic toiletries from its hotel rooms, saving an estimated 17 million plastic bottles and 100 tons of plastic every year.

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What’s more, less obvious sources of plastic waste such as key cards are also being replaced, with some hotels already developing solutions such as replacing plastic key cards with mobile apps. Leveraging technology to reduce waste is a common solution and we’re likely to see more of this as sustainable waste management for hotels becomes the norm.

For waste that isn’t reduced, there is also the option to implement more robust recycling programs that help deal with waste in a sustainable way.

Food waste management

Sustainable Hotel Waste Management | RTSSustainable hotel waste management — How hospitality is tackling its waste problem - Recycle Track Systems (9)

As one of the major sources, kitchen waste at hotels is already being targeted for change. One study from 2021 focused on breakfast buffet leftovers in four hotels in Germany and found that simple self-reporting using a food waste tracking system showed marked improvements in hotel kitchen operations such as refilling the breakfast buffet with less food, leading to:

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  • A 64.3% reduction of breakfast buffet leftovers (by mass)
  • Saving an average of $9,000 per kitchen, per year

Beyond reduction, hotels are also looking towards composting to recycle food waste.

Guest waste management

Guest waste isn’t material-based waste and can include everything from food scraps to plastic to metal and glass. Therefore, one of the best ways to deal with this stream is by creating customer-facing waste management points. This can be as simple as clearly labeled trash cans that allow guests to separate recyclables, compostables, and general waste.

Sustainable Hotel Waste Management | RTSSustainable hotel waste management — How hospitality is tackling its waste problem - Recycle Track Systems (10)

Beyond this, some hospitality establishments are now offering outreach to teach guests and staff more about sustainable waste management. This can extend beyond physical waste, to inform people about reducing hotel power and water waste as well.

There is no question that hotel waste is a major problem within the industry, but operators are beginning to tackle the issue through more sustainable management. The full impact of PPE on waste streams is yet to be seen, but with such strong customer demand for greener hospitality, the trend towards sustainable hotels is likely to continue.

For more information about responsible waste management for hotels or other businesses, speak to one of our TRUE Advisors today or subscribe to the RTS blog.

Contact one of our TRUE Advisors today.

(Video) Webinar - Tackling Food Waste, Even During a Pandemic - June 3, 2020


How can a hotel reduce reuse and recycle waste? ›

10 Green Initiatives for Your Hotel
  1. Change Your Menu Up a Little. ...
  2. Limit Water Waste. ...
  3. Utilise Eco-friendly Cleaning Supplies. ...
  4. Switch to Energy Efficient Lighting. ...
  5. Start a Roof Top Garden. ...
  6. Guests Can Re-use Linen. ...
  7. Make Eco-Friendly Changes in Your Washroom. ...
  8. Recycle.

What is sustainable management in hospitality industry? ›

Sustainability — the mindful use of a resource so that it isn't used up or damaged — plays a vital role in the hospitality industry. Hospitality organizations' success depends on their preserving the natural and cultural attractions that compel tourists to visit their destinations. Not doing so has consequences.

What are sustainable solutions for waste management? ›

What are sustainable solutions for waste management?
  • Compost food waste.
  • Recycle used stationery.
  • Reduce paper and ink usage.
  • Donate gently used equipment.
  • Find reusable options instead of disposable ones.
11 Nov 2022

Why is recycling important in the hospitality industry? ›

Importance of waste management in the hospitality industry: save money via recycling. It goes without saying that the importance of waste management in hotels not only includes helping the environment but also reducing costs.

How can we control wastage in hotel industry? ›

Methods To Control Food Wastage In Hotel
  1. Purchasing of Raw Material. It is noticed that most of the food gets wasted in the warehouses. ...
  2. Quantity of Served Food. Keep checking how much food gets wasted on the table. ...
  3. Cold Storage and Warehouses. ...
  4. Use of POS Technology. ...
  5. Food Donation and Recycle.
1 Aug 2022

What are the sustainability issues in hospitality industry? ›

Pollution and improper waste management by the hotel industry have had dire consequences on the environment and biodiversity. The hotel industry has contributed to climate change by emitting vast amounts of carbon dioxide and waste. It also consumes large quantities of energy and water.

What is the importance of managing sustainable tourism and hospitality? ›

It is an aspiration to acknowledge all impacts of tourism, both positive and negative. It aims to minimize the negative impacts and maximize the positive ones. Negative impacts to a destination include economic leakage, damage to the natural environment and overcrowding to name a few.

What are the benefits of sustainable hospitality? ›

  • It has a lower ecological impact. The things you eat while on vacation have a huge impact on your ecological footprint. ...
  • It allows wildlife to stay wild. ...
  • Sustainable tourism keeps the environment clean. ...
  • It supports local communities. ...
  • It allows travelers to be more conscious of their choices.
18 Mar 2020

What is the importance of sustainable waste management? ›

The main advantage of sustainable waste management is to lessen the impact on the environment, by improving air and water quality and contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Besides, reducing food waste also helps reduce the heavy environmental cost of producing more.

What are 3 sustainable practices we can implement to improve waste disposal? ›

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Obviously, the 3 Rs are still the best sustainable waste management practices businesses can implement in their operations. And, you should also take note in their arrangement. Reducing and reusing are the first priority, while recycling is done if the former two are not applicable.

What are 3 ways recycling can help with sustainability? ›

For the environment, recycling:
  • Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators.
  • Conserves natural resources such as timber, water and minerals.
  • Prevents pollution and reduces greenhouse gases by reducing the need to mine and process new raw materials.

What is the importance of managing the use of resources effectively and reducing waste? ›

Reducing waste conserves energy and reduces the air, soil, and water contamination that is often caused by the manufacture of those materials and supplies that become waste, and from the fossil fuel powered transportation that delivers those goods and hauls them away after they become waste.

Is waste management important in the hospitality industry? ›

For hotels, a good waste management strategy not only results in greater operational efficiencies, it also helps conserve energy and water.

What is the best action in order to solve the problem of waste management? ›

We can significantly reduce the amount of solid waste by following some basic principles of reducing the amount of waste that is created, reusing materials that would otherwise be discarded, by recycling materials and by using recycled materials.

Why is food waste a problem in the food and hospitality industry? ›

Most importantly, by wasting so much food, the hospitality industry is also guilty of wasting the resources used to produce it. The energy used from growing, through harvesting, transporting, processing, packaging and distributing is thrown in to landfill alongside everything else.

What can be recycled in hospitality industry? ›

Recycling your waste can: lower your waste management costs, especially if you often dispose of heavy materials such as glass.
Materials that you can recycle include:
  • glass bottles and jars.
  • cardboard.
  • plastic bottles.
  • food and drink cans.
  • printer cartridges.
  • electrical items.

What are the 5 importance of recycling? ›

Not only can it help reduce your carbon footprint, but it also helps reduce the need for harvesting raw materials, saves energy, reduces greenhouse gases, prevents pollution, and more. By improving our recycling habits, we can help keep the environment clean and preserve our natural resources.

What are the importance of waste management in the hotel? ›

Disposing and recycling your waste correctly not only helps the environment but also saves hotels money, time and resources. There is an abundance of waste technology available to reduce the production and disposal of waste.

How can hotels be more sustainable? ›

You can make a hotel more environmentally sustainable by employing best practices to reduce energy and water consumption and waste generation. These may include using energy- and water-efficient appliances, smart devices, and more efficient streamlined or automated systems.

What are 5 good practices a hospitality workplace can do to reduce waste? ›

10 ways to increase sustainable hospitality
  • Plastic straws just have to go. ...
  • Encourage reusable coffee cups. ...
  • Buy local produce and reduce your food miles. ...
  • BYO containers. ...
  • Sort out food wastage. ...
  • Use eco-friendly products at events. ...
  • Increase vegetarian options on the menu. ...
  • Establish a process for your container deposit system.
14 May 2019

Why is sustainability in hospitality businesses important? ›

Sustainability saves us money by reducing spending and waste. It helps our environment.

Why sustainability in the hospitality industry must be our top priority? ›

Conservation The cost of energy is one of the highest in hotels. It is imperative to reduce energy consumption, without compromising the overall guest experience to save cost and the environment.

What is a sustainable hospitality operation or how will you describe sustainability in hospitality industry? ›

Sustainable hotels respect the socio-economic needs of hotel staff and the local community and are operated for the profit of the owners and operators while lowering their environmental impact. Sustainable practices call for respect of the environment in hotel design, development and operation.

What is the importance of sustainable management of natural resources? ›

- Sustainable management of natural resources is important because it helps to use resources wisely without unnecessary use and without sacrificing on future generation's needs. - Reuse is better than recycling, since it takes both energy and resources to recycle materials. Moreover, there are few recyclable materials.

How sustainable development affects the hospitality industry? ›

An increase on food, energy and water demand will be more widely felt in the hospitality industry, a high service, people-intensive, mobile business. The health and balance of the ecosystem will become part of asset development and economic viability.

How important is sustainability to hotels? ›

It's pivotal to take these steps and embrace these initiatives. It will not only help your hotel save money by being more energy-efficient, help preserve the destination and local community and bring people closer together but also differentiate your hotel from the competition and attract more guests.

How could you help to reduce waste do you have any plans to solve the problem of numerous wastes of garbage? ›

Segregate Waste

Put wet wastes like leftover foods, vegetables, peels etc. in an organic dustbin which can later be used for composting Segregation of waste can reduce the garbage burden on the already overflowing landfills, thereby curbing the pollution levels.

What sustainable ways can be taken by industries to reduce waste production? ›

4 Ways to Manage and Reduce Industrial Waste
  • Build a Dedicated Green Team. Industrial waste management is a complex process that involves various steps, such as waste segregation, waste treatment, recycling, composting, etc. ...
  • Take Care of Packaging. ...
  • Reduce Paint Waste. ...
  • Segregate & Compost.
24 Mar 2021

How recycling helps to create a more sustainable environment? ›

Recycling helps protect the planet's limited resources and natural habitats. Recycling reduces landfill, when we recycle, recyclable materials are reprocessed into new products, and as a result, the amount of rubbish sent to landfill sites decreases which reduce emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

What is the impact of recycling on sustainability? ›

Recycling also conserves resources and protects the environment. Environmental benefits include reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and combustion facilities; conserving natural resources, such as timber, water and minerals; and preventing pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials.

How can we promote the recycling project in the community? ›

5 Ways to Encourage People to Recycle
  1. Keep recycling bins close by.
  2. Get recyclable items in supermarkets.
  3. Reduce the price of plastic bags and create reusable ones.
  4. Make it fashionable to recycle.
  5. Conclusion.
17 Feb 2022

How can you help in managing our waste and help save the environment? ›

We can do this by following the 5 Rs of waste management.
  • Reduce. Reducing your waste means that there would be less waste to manage. ...
  • Reuse. A good percentage of the waste that ends up in landfills can be reused—waste such as unwanted clothes, toys, old jars, or old magazines. ...
  • Recycle.
4 Nov 2020

How can you help your community improve its waste management system? ›

Taking Community Action for Waste Management
  1. Coordinate activities with other organizations. ...
  2. Pursue partnership with government. ...
  3. Monitor waste activities in your community. ...
  4. Get involved in education. ...
  5. Communicate with your government. ...
  6. Be a watchdog. ...
  7. Notify the media of stories of environmental importance.

What is the importance of proper waste management essay? ›

Essay on Waste Management-Waste management is essential in today's society. Due to an increase in population, the generation of waste is getting doubled day by day. Moreover, the increase in waste is affecting the lives of many people. For instance, people living in slums are very close to the waste disposal area.

How can hotels improve waste management? ›

Generally, hotel waste management practices include prevention and reduction, recycling, donating, composting, tracking, improving ingredient purchase and storage, smart food merchandising, menu design, employee training, customer engagement, portion control, and service model changes.

How can hotel organization participate in reuse reduce and recycle give examples? ›

Hotel restaurants reduce waste by using washable table cloths and dinnerware, reusable coffee filters and by providing condiments in bulk dispensers. Hotels can eliminate bottled water waste by using filtered water instead.

What are the strategies that can be done to manage waste properly? ›

Solid Waste Management Strategy
  • reduce the waste we produce;
  • reuse items as much as possible;
  • recycle waste items so their materials can be recovered and reused; and.
  • compost organic waste residues.

What is the most effective method of waste management? ›

Out of them recycling and reusing are considered to be the best waste management method, for obvious reasons because recycling not only allows us to get rid of waste material that we no longer need but effectively converts it into something that is useful and is required as raw materials for industries.

What is the most important step in waste management? ›

During any incident, an important goal of waste management should be to reduce the amount of disposable waste and preserve valuable, limited landfill space. This goal can be met by reusing and recycling as much material and waste as possible.

How do restaurants reduce reuse and recycle? ›

How to Reduce and Manage Food Waste in Restaurants
  1. Conduct an audit of your restaurant's food waste. ...
  2. Only order the ingredients you need. ...
  3. Use a FIFO storage system for all produce. ...
  4. Label all food types and ingredients. ...
  5. Plan your menu using similar ingredients. ...
  6. Find creative ways to use leftover ingredients.
1 Dec 2022

How can hotels reduce cost and waste? ›

Reduce the use of plastic, replacing hotel keys with mobile access technology and single-use bath amenities with soap dispensers. Reducing plastic allows our planet to breathe while, if you take a look at your “hotel wallet”, it could be a good point to work on your profitability.

What are 3 ways you can reduce reuse or recycle? ›

Twelve Tips to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
  • Purchase only what food and other supplies you need. ...
  • Opt out of junk-mail by registering with the Direct Marketing Association.
  • Avoid creating trash whenever possible. ...
  • Pack a waste-free lunch with no throwaway bags, containers, plastic wrap, etc.

What are 3 reasons we should reduce reuse and recycle? ›

Benefits of Reducing and Reusing

Prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials. Saves energy. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. Helps sustain the environment for future generations.

How can we practice reduce reuse recycle properly and effectively explain? ›

6 Ways to Reuse, Reduce and Recycle
  1. One way to reduce is to reuse. Instead of using plastic bags, bring reusable bags and Tupperware when going shopping or packing food or leftovers.
  2. Shop responsibly. ...
  3. Composting is your friend. ...
  4. Start recycling. ...
  5. Go paperless. ...
  6. Buy second-hand.
29 Oct 2015

What is the importance of reduce recycle and reuse to save the environment? ›

Reducing, reusing and recycling waste helps save landfill space by keeping useful materials out. The amount of energy and natural resources needed to produce or collect the raw materials and manufacture the product are reduced.

What contribution can you give to reduce the problem of waste disposal? ›

→ By reducing, reusing and recycling non-biodegradable substances.

How can we make hospitality industry sustainable? ›

It isn't just your environmental footprint to consider, it is also that of those you source resources from.
  1. Choose organic food & drink sources.
  2. Purchase products from sustainable businesses.
  3. Minimise use of chemicals.
  4. Use eco-friendly hotel cleaning products.
  5. Source organic bedding & recycled furniture.

What are good environmental practices in hospitality industry? ›

Some ideas to consider:
  • Cut down on the use of plastic water bottles by offering hotel reward program members a reusable branded bottle.
  • Add a water-bottle filling station in the lobby.
  • Install additional towel racks in bathrooms to make it easy for guests to reuse towels. ...
  • Make recycling options easy to spot.
12 Jun 2020

Why is it important for hotels to be sustainable? ›

When hotels go green, they do less damage to the environment, lower costs, and win goodwill from guests. Sustainability in the business world is essential to achieving growth and satisfying customers. Increasingly, consumers seek out green businesses and pay more for eco-friendly products and services.


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