Question: I operate a hotel and am doubtful as to whether it’s worth the time and money to integrate a full-scale recycling program. What are the benefits to my business if I undertake such a venture?

Answer: Hey there! If you think that a recycling program is of no benefit for your hotel, it may be time to think again. Grand-scaled recycling programs have started to pop up throughout the hospitality industry as a way of cutting down on energy costs while attracting eco-minded travelers and competing to create the best “green” brand on the market. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits and the basics of setting up a a recycling program at your hotel.

Stop throwing money out with the trash

It’s no surprise that the impact of recycling on the environment is enormous; according to the DPPEA, (N.C. Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance) recycling even one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television set for three hours! More importantly however, your business could be throwing away thousands in savings alongside that non-recycled waste.

How much money exactly are you currently throwing down the garbage chute? Well, according to Eco Green Hotel, following the launch of its recycling program, the Hilton Hotel at Walt Disney World Village was able to drop its garbage collection fees by 80%, from $6,000/month to $1200/month; that’s an annual savings of over $50,000. Meanwhile, Seattle’s Westin Hotel saw $30,000 in savings and revenue after recycling 30% of the hotel’s waste, equaling 280 tons annually, says King Country in its GreenWorks Newsletter.

Checklist for creating a successful recycling program

Needless to say, there are many things you can do to reduce the amount of waste produced before initiating a full scale recycle program. Source reduction in the form of smart purchases and green behaviour is a great way to cut down on waste before it ends up in the bin, but once it does, you’ll want to have a system set up that will maintain profitability and provide an efficient means of recycling applicable materials throughout your hotel.

Taking into account the expert advice of regional departments and associations like the Honolulu Department of Environmental Services and the Hancock County Planning Commission, we’ve put together a checklist you can follow in order to create a successful recycling program at your hotel:

  1. Select a recycling coordinator or manager to conduct a waste audit and determine what to recycle, select a contractor, educate employees and design the collection system.
  2. Conduct a waste audit to identify what’s in your waste and which materials to collect for recycling. Review purchasing and waste removal records.
  3. Identify the recyclables and then contact the city’s recycling office for up to date info on current regulations on recycling certain materials within your area. Hotels generating large amounts of food waste may be required to recycle food waste in addition to other materials.
  4. Choose a collection contractor. Do your research and seek out reliable service at the best price (see below for tips on how to choose a recycling service contractor).
  5. Design a collection system that makes it easy to recycle. Think about where to put containers, how to transfer material, and where to establish a central collection system and storage area. Develop a recycling materials flow plan, and invest in materials processing equipment.
  6. Get your staff on board by creating program announcements and hosting meetings, educational seminars and follow ups.
  7. Evaluate your success by measuring how much you’ve recycled and make necessary changes along the way.

How to choose a recycling service contractor

One of the trickiest parts of coordinating a recycling system is choosing a dependable service contractor to collect the goods. According to DM Wales there are 5 things you must do when choosing the contractor best suited for the job including: reading the contractual small print; finding out whether or not the percentage of waste the company claims to recycle matches with how much of your waste they will recycle; researching their impact on the environment (there’s no point in hiring a contractor with a terrible track record to facilitate a program meant to lessen your footprint); asking about the frequency of collections, including the numbers and size of bins; and finding out the full cost of services offered.

Follow theses steps and you’ll have a successful recycling program set up at your hotel in no time! Questions about how to set up a recycling program? Leave them below! We’d love to hear from you.

image credit: El Gouna Red Sea