Getting recycling into rooms

Waste from guest rooms is as much of a burden on the environment as any waste produced in your hotel or resort. Fairmont Hotel's Alka Patel discusses bringing recycling to the people.
Getting recycling into rooms
By Alka Patel
Thu 19 Mar 2009 04:00 AM

Guest rooms can produce surprisingly large amounts of waste - ranging from one half pounds (225g) to 28 pounds (13kg) per day - depending on the number of occupants and type of property.

Recycling is becoming part of the global culture and, for many guests, recycling is part of every day life. They appreciate being given the opportunity to recycle; most expect it.

If you don't already have one, an in-room recycling program is a tremendously simple and effective initiative. It's visible to every guest - tangible evidence that your hotel or resort is taking action - and an ideal way of inviting guests to participate in your program. People who play an active role, however small, in any project immediately find themselves strongly supportive and committed to that project.

You may want to sell or donate to charity all recyclable materials collected from the guest rooms. Use any profits to buy more recycling bins or to add to your green account to pay for in-house environmental programmes or to help support community environmental activities.

Take advantage of established local recycling programmes - if your region uses blue, green or grey boxes, do likewise. You may be able to get recycling boxes at a discount from manufacturers in return for free promotion of their recycled products or send recyclable plastic to the company in return for a supply of boxes.

Educate guests on the use of recycling containers

Given the opportunity, guests will recycle with care. However, keep in mind that a hotel must make it simple for them; whether on holiday or business, most guests don't have time to go looking for recycling bins.

• Make sure recycling containers are easy to see.

• Clearly post a list of items that can go into recycling containers.

• Tell guests about where their recycled goods go. Let them know about your recycling programme, your environmental goals and achievements, and how your property is practicing environmental stewardship. The in-room directory is a good place for this information and will reinforce, to guests, your commitment to protecting our environment.

• Make it easy for housekeeping staff to collect materials.

• Integrate the separation and collection of recyclable waste into normal work procedures. Putting an item into a recycling container takes the same amount of time as putting it into a trashcan.

• Supply each housekeeping cart with a large container - such as hanging a green canvas sack prominently labeled as ‘recycling' - for the contents of guest room recycling boxes.

• Make sure there is space in each floor service area for housekeepers to sort out the waste.

Alka Patel is director of communications at Fairmont Dubai Hotel. Contact: alka.patel@fairmont.com.

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