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Mon 12 Nov 2007 04:00 AM

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Slimming down the waste line

The Fairmont Dubai public relations manager - and eco-champion - Alka Patel looks at steps a hotel can take to reduce its rubbish output.

Slimming down the waste line
The best way to deal with garbage is to avoid producing it in the first place.

Garbage is a product of our lives and its disposal is one of the biggest environmental challenges in the world. Dubai alone generates 8000 tonnes of waste a day.

For the hospitality industry to reduce the impact of garbage production, we must all follow the golden rule - the same as for individuals - reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reduce:The best way to deal with garbage is to avoid producing it in the first place.

Set a target to reduce landfill waste by 60% and paper use by 30% over three years.

Reuse:Items and materials that are given a second life are kept out of landfill, not to mention saving the energy consumed to produce them.

Recycle:Many products or packages cannot be eliminated or reused, but they can often be recycled.

Setting a waste reduction target

Set a target to reduce landfill waste by 60% and paper use by 30% over three years. In setting a waste reduction target, you first need to audit to track what you are producing.

In a waste audit, track the amounts and kind of waste you produce over a given period of time (usually 24 hours). Most properties hire an outside company to perform the audit, but you could conduct the audit in-house. The results of the audit will help you better understand the sources of waste, its composition and the possibilities for its reuse and reduction. The audits will also provide the costs of different disposal options and it will provide you with leverage when negotiating with waste management suppliers.

What to look for in a waste audit

• inform staff about the audit. A waste audit must be carefully planned and organised; all employees should understand the process and goals of the audit.

• an auditor will also distribute colour-coded waste containers to each department in your hotel and also include all applicable buildings.

• the auditor will collect waste over a 24-hour period. Once completed, he or she will weigh all bags and recycled materials to measure how much is being generated.

• the auditor sorts the trash and recycling to determine composition and weight of each type of material. Recycling should be divided into categories of materials, for example paper, plastics and metals.

• the auditor charts all the results and analyzes any patterns of waste production.

Other information that should be recorded are the name of the company (or companies) that hauls and disposes your waste, where and how your waste is disposed of, whether you pay per bin pick up or by weight, how recycled materials are handled, the amount of sorting that is necessary, whether there is a charge for unacceptable materials and whether the recycler pays for certain materials to be collected.

Other considerations

• establish a recycling measurement and performance system for use within your hotel.

• continue to move towards paper efficiency by reduction, reuse and elimination strategies, such as making use of new technology as it become available.

• review your recycling/waste hauler contract. Due to successful recycling programs, some hotels are now filling their bins with lightweight loads and some waste haulers are penalising them for their environmentally conscious efforts.

• other hotels have found that they are now being charged a fee-per-load based on the number of bins lifted, instead of a fee-per-load based on weight.

Once a hotel has taken careful stock of it's current performance, improvements can be planned.

As always, paying closer attention to your hotel's impact on the environment can have serious pay offs - not just for the enviroment, but also for the property's bottom line.

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