The hospitality industry produces a whopping 2.87 million tonnes of plastic each year and most of it may have been unnecessarily sent to landfill. However, it's not too late for hotels to rectify their past environmental shortcomings and start recycling; with some education and minor changes, it's possible for all hotels to reduce the amount of plastic they use.
Improve your recycling scheme
Half a million tonnes of recycling was unnecessarily burned or sent to landfill in 2017, all because it was improperly disposed of to begin with; hotels can improve their recycling scheme so they no longer contribute to this worrying statistic. A great place to start is with a waste audit, which will allow hotel owners to analyse where most of the plastic waste is coming from and if everything is being done to recycle the waste properly. A simple solution could be to put recycling bins in a guest's room so that they have more of an incentive to recycle any waste they have, instead of putting it all in one bin.
A single-use plastic blanket ban
If a hotel is serious about limiting their plastic usage, then they can refuse to purchase any single-use plastic. The EU have already proposed a ban on single-use plastics, so it would be progressive for your hotel to think of environmentally friendly alternatives they can use before a ban is actually implemented. Start small with the straws in your hotel bar and consider swapping out the plastic for a bamboo or metal alternative. Plastic water bottles are one of the biggest contributors to the plastic waste problem and more than 2.8 billion litres of bottled water was consumed in the UK in 2017; hotels can combat this issue by filling a guest's mini fridge with glass containers instead.
Reuse where possible
Did you know that it can take up to 500 years for some types of plastic to biodegrade? Miniature toothpaste tubes and soap packaging could be piling up in landfill and contributing to a hotel's carbon footprint. Hotels could consider using reusable containers and refilling them when they get empty; not only is this a more environmentally friendly solution, but refillable soap dispensers look more attractive than plastic packaging, adding to the overall charm of the hotel room.
Change begins with education and if hotels teach their staff and clients about the importance of reducing plastic consumption, they will actively work to change their habits; spend time training staff on how to properly clean and recycle items and encourage guests to be more mindful of their waste habits. As well as highlighting the thoughtfulness of your company, a personalised reusable water bottle could be a great environmental incentive for your most loyal hotel guests.
Hotels can begin their eco-friendly journey by carefully choosing which suppliers they invest in, choosing brands that are more aware of the amount of plastic packaging they send their products in. Richard Haworth, is now ISO 14001 accredited and recognised as a business that is committed to preserving the environment. As a company, they are mindful of how much plastic they use and strive to make the hospitality industry as green as possible. With a few simple changes, hotels can help to reduce the carbon footprint of the hospitality sector.