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Waste Reduction

Florida's tourism industry serves an estimated 40 million visitors annually. More than 50 percent of these visitors are hotel guests during some portion their stay. The waste generated by these guests constitutes a large portion of the state's commercial waste stream. A hotel waste audit showed that the majority of waste in a hotel is not produced in guest rooms, but in the Food and Beverage Department. If a hotel's waste is not reduced or recycled, it contributes to the state's overall environmental problems.

Reducing materials at their source, coupled with recovery, reuse and recycling prevents pollution and reduces or eliminates treatment and disposal costs. Recycling should be incorporated into daily operations along with staff training. Each hotel/motel recycling program must be specifically designed to accommodate the hotel's procedures of operation, hotel activities and structural design.

Educating guests about recycling through guest books, media boards and in-house television services is a great public relations tool that is received favorably by guests. Many guests are familiar with recycling from home or work and are glad to continue the process when staying a hotel.

The preferred method for reducing waste is to prevent it in the first place through source reduction. This is followed by material reuse and finally recycling. The following information provides Best Management Practices (BMPs) relating to each area of waste reduction. Reducing waste creates a more efficient management program.

General Waste Reduction BMPs

Prepare and follow a written waste reduction plan.
A written waste reduction plan is an integral part of any waste reduction effort. The plan should include the scope of the project or efforts, overall goals and specific waste reduction target measures. Also, the plan should be structured so that the elimination of waste at the source, or source reduction, is the first goal followed by the reuse of material and finally recycling.

Conduct a facility-wide waste audit.
In order to clearly find out which wastes are being generated, it is important to conduct a facility-wide audit of all generated wastes. The audit can be broken down in specific high waste generation areas, such as the Food and Beverage Departments and then compiled with data from other areas to get an accurate description of the waste generation issues.

Track waste generation on a regular basis.
Tracking waste generation is not a difficult process. It can be accomplished by simply tracking the amount of waste that is picked up for disposal. Waste tracking will allow the facility to obtain measurements and data to assist in the waste reduction efforts by highlighting outstanding generation issues.

Properly identify, track, store and dispose of hazardous waste materials according to appropriate environmental regulations.
Proper management of hazardous materials reduces the likelihood of exposure of guest, staff and the environment as a whole. Common examples of possible hazardous materials are large volumes of paints, oils, chemicals, pool supplies and spent fluorescent bulbs. All of these materials must be stored and disposed of according to the correct environmental regulations. In particular, fluorescent bulbs cannot be disposed of in normal trash receptacles. These bulbs must be properly stored and labeled in a padded container and disposed of through a hazardous waste collection service.

Source Waste Reduction BMPs

Institute environmentally-preferable purchasing (EPP) policies.
EPP is a procurement system that leads to direct waste reductions at the source. Common types of EPP are purchasing supplies in bulk, buying products that have minimal packaging and participating in supplier or manufacturer take-back programs for items such as pallets and large containers.

Provide newspapers to guests only by request.
Newspapers are a substantial contributor to the waste generation problem in the lodging industry. One of the ways to combat this problem is by providing guests with newspapers by request only. If this is not an option, all newspapers should be recycled by the hotel staff.

Use refillable containers instead of single-use packets and containers.
Instead of providing single-use toiletries and condiments, use items that are refillable on a continual basis. An example is using refillable shampoo/conditioner containers in the showers of guest rooms.

Set printers and copiers to duplex printing by default.
By printing on both sides, also called duplex printing, paper usage can be reduced by up to 50 percent. Change the default settings on all printers and copiers to print in duplex mode.

Eliminate the use of polystyrene (Styrofoam) and plastic food service containers.
Plastic and polystyrene food service containers take up valuable space in landfills and are not biodegradable. By substituting these products with biodegradable and compostable materials, less waste will be generated.

Reduce the purchasing of excess or inventory materials.
Buy only what is needed in the short term to reduce excess materials and waste.

Remove or eliminate the storage and use of hazardous chemicals.
Although hazardous chemicals may be needed for certain applications, try to move away from them where possible. Examples include switching from traditional cleaning chemicals to green cleaners. Green cleaners often have less stringent storage requirements than traditional cleaners and can lead to reduced exposure to harmful substances.

Reuse Waste Reduction BMPs

Use old or discarded office paper for notepads or packing materials.
Used office paper can easily be cut into squares and reused as office notepads. This is especially true if the paper is only printed on one side. If duplex printing is used, shred paper for reuse as packaging material for shipping and in gifts shops.

Donate any excess items, such as food, toiletry items, furniture, electronics and linens to local charities or other social service organizations.
Donate any items that can still be used to local charities or other social service organizations. This will extend the life cycle of these usable products instead of sending them to the landfill. If items cannot be donated to local charities, arrange for a system to sell the items to employees. Construction and demolition supplies and wastes can also be reused in this manner.

Compost excess food and landscape trimmings.
In areas where excess prepared food items cannot be donated to local charities, compost these materials. As with excess food, landscape trimmings should not be sent to the landfill. These materials can be shredded or chipped and reapplied as soil amendments. Such services can be arranged through local agricultural and landscaping resources.

Supply reusable goods in place of disposable goods.
Common examples of reusable goods include cloth table linens, glass or hard plastic drinking containers, refillable soap, cleaning supplies and toiletry containers, plates and cutlery items. These goods can be supplied not only to guest areas of the facility but to back of house areas as well.

Recycling Waste Reduction BMPs

Develop an onsite recycling program for as many waste materials as possible.
Commonly recycled materials include: aluminum, landscape waste, newspapers, cooking grease, food waste, glass, carpet, building materials, motor oil and liquids, plastic bottles and buckets, steel containers, office paper and supplies, electronics, ink cartridges, cardboards, fluorescent bulbs, magazines and batteries. Recycling services for all the above may not be available in your area. Check with your local Recycling Coordinator on the availability of commercial recycling. You can find local recycling coordinators on the DEP Web site at: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/recycling Institute recycling programs for as many as possible.

Locate recycling containers and bins next to trash receptacles.
The most successful recycling programs make it easy to participate. Locating recycling containers next to the trash receptacles will lead to an increased success rate for the recycling program. Also, provide easy instructions and directions where these bins are located to both guests and staff.

Clearly communicate what can be recycled.
Materials that are accepted for recycling should be clearly communicated to both the guests and facility staff. One common way is to clearly define acceptable materials on the recycling containers themselves. Often a large print sticker can be used.

Purchase recycled content supplies.
Participate in environmentally-preferable purchasing by procuring materials that are made with recycled content instead of first-generation content. If possible, purchase supplies that contain the at least 30 percent post-consumer recycled content. Common examples of items containing at least 30 percent post-consumer content are toilet tissue, paper towels, facial tissue, envelopes, office paper and kitchen napkins.

Print advertising, educational and promotional materials on recycled paper or materials.
Printing on recycled content paper will lead to less pollution and energy consumption during the paper production process compared to that of virgin paper.

Recycle materials used in convention and meeting rooms.
Materials used in conference and meeting proceedings are often left behind after the event and end up being thrown away. Develop a plan or policy for collecting these reusable materials, storing them and using them during the next event. Also, try not to provide these materials at all or provide them by request only.

Industry Information

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Last updated: July 01, 2015

  Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Green Lodging Program, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, M.S. 30, Tallahassee, Florida 32399
850-245-2100 (phone) / 850-245-2159 (fax)  
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