Waste Reduction and Recycling for the Lodging Industry

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1 Waste Reduction and Recycling for the Lodging Industry Prepared by: Rhonda Sherman, Extension Agricultural Engineering Specialist ncsu.edu Published by: North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Publication Number: 4/94-3M-TWK AG Introduction: What does the Grove Park Inn of Asheville, North Carolina, offer other than a great view and excellent resort facilities? A comprehensive waste reduction and recycling program that its guests love! Hotel and motel managers nationwide are discovering that developing a waste reduction and recycling program not only improves their image but saves them money, too The 510-room Grove Park Inn began its recycling program in 1991 and hired a full-time recycling coordinator in August During 1993 the hotel recycled cardboard; aluminum cans; glass bottles; white, colored, and computer paper; plastic ink cartridges; and kitchen grease and solid fat. The hotel also practices "precycling," reuses waste materials, buys recycled products, and conserves water and energy. Why are hotel and motel managers interested in reducing waste? The lodging industry contributes a sizable portion of the 7 million tons of waste discarded annually in North Carolina. Across the state, lodging facilities cater to millions of visitors each year, providing more than 100,000 rooms. Large volumes of waste are produced in the diverse facilities that these properties encompass, including guest rooms, kitchens, lounges, restaurants, laundries, offices, and conference rooms. Guest rooms can produce surprisingly large amounts of waste, ranging from l/2 pound to 28 pounds per day, depending on the number of occupants and the type of property. And most of the material thrown away (aluminum cans, bottles, newspapers, magazines, and office paper) is recyclable. But the items discarded by guests are not the only waste materials produced by a lodging facility. Hotel operations discard large quantities of recyclable wastes, including

2 cardboard boxes, plastic and glass bottles, aluminum and steel cans, cooking oil, and office paper. And don't forget yard waste and debris from construction md demolition. Depending on the season and the extent of remodeling taking place, large volumes of waste may be generated. Why Should Lodging Facilities Reduce and Recycle Waste? North Carolina hotel and motel operators are wise to consider waste reduction and recycling programs for several reasons complying with state waste management laws and regulations, improving their image among customers, saving money, and protecting the environment. Supporting State Solid Waste Management Laws and Regulations Solid waste management legislation passed in 1989 and amended in 1991 set goals for state wide waste reduction and established a hierarchy of strategies for reducing solid waste. The goals are to reduce the amount of municipal solid waste by 25 percent by June 30, 1993, and 40 percent by June 30, Reducing waste at its source (that is, preventing the production of waste materials) is the preferred solid waste management strategy, followed by recycling, reuse, and composting. The least desirable alternatives for managing wastes are incinerating them and depositing them in a landfill. State law also bans yard debris, whole tires, used motor oil, lead-acid batteries, and large appliances from landfills. Beginning July 1, 1994, aluminum cans, antifreeze, and steel cans will also be banned from incinerators and landfills. More than a dozen North Carolina counties and municipalities have established bans or penalties for disposing of cardboard boxes and other recyclable materials in landfills. What will you do if your local landfill bans boxes and other recyclable wastes? Boosting Your "Green" Image Widespread interest in waste reduction has compelled businesses and industries to present a "green" image to the public-that is, to demonstrate that they are environmentally responsible. Most Americans (and many foreign visitors) now recycle at home and expect to do so while they are travelling. Will you join others in the lodging industry who have responded by offering a recycling program? Many hotels are discovering that their environmentally responsible practices can attract convention and conference business. For example, managers of the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers estimate that their waste reduction program attracted $750,000 in new business during its first two years because of clients' desires to support "green" businesses. Cost Savings You can also save a significant amount of money by reducing waste and recycling waste materials. The greatest savings result from reductions in trash hauling fees. For example, after the Hilton Hotel at Walt Disney World Village began its recycling program, its garbage collection fees dropped 80 percent-from $6,000 a month to $1,200 a month. You can also save

3 money by reducing the amount of materials wasted, and you can make money from the sale of recyclable wastes. The amount saved will depend on the market value of the materials recycled, the availability of local markets for the materials, your location, landfill tipping fees, the cost of recycling containers, and charges for collecting the materials. Protecting the Environment In addition to saving dwindling landfill space, your waste reduction and recycling program will preserve resources, conserve energy, reduce air pollution, and save water. How to Start a Waste Reduction and Recycling Program There are eight basic steps to planning and implementing a waste reduction and recycling program: 1. organize a waste reduction team; 2. conduct a waste assessment; 3. establish waste reduction goals; 4. secure recycling markets; 5. set up a collection and storage system; 6. buy recycled products; 7. train your staff and promote the program; 8. establish monitoring and evaluation procedures. These steps are described in the following sections. Step 1: Organize a Waste Reduction Team Commitment to waste reduction begins at the top. If the management team fully supports waste reduction, employees will follow. Be sure to involve employees in the planning stages. Establish a committee with representatives from each of your work areas (for example, management, housekeeping, maintenance, laundry, and restaurant). Step 2: Conduct a Waste Assessment You need to know what is being thrown away (that is, what materials are in your facility's waste stream) before you design a waste reduction and recycling program. Consult your current waste hauler or contact another hauler or recycling service listed in the classified pages of your telephone directory for assistance in conducting a waste audit. By examining the contents of your facility's dumpsters and recording how often they are emptied, you can determine the types and amount of waste items being discarded and you can determine which of these items can be recycled. Step 3: Establish Waste Reduction Goals Using your waste assessment as a basis, determine how you can reduce the amount of waste being produced and what waste materials can be reused or recycled. Set waste reduction goals for each of these approaches. For example, you might aim to reduce waste production by 10 percent, reuse 10 percent of the waste now being discarded, and recycle 50 percent of the waste.

4 For assistance in deciding how to reduce your waste, contact your local solid waste management department or your county Cooperative Extension Center. (See the resource list at the end of this guide.) Reducing Waste Reducing waste means not producing it in the first place. By reducing the amount of waste generated, you'll save purchasing, disposal, and recycling costs. Here are a few easy, simple ways to reduce waste: use both sides of the paper when making copies substitute reusable items for disposable ones make discarded paper into scratch pads; equip guest rooms with a bulk dispensing system to replace individual plastic soap and shampoo bottles; use two-way shipping containers (ones that can be returned and refilled); reuse manila envelopes; order products in concentrated form or in bulk; Install cloth roll towels or hand dryers in public restrooms; have fax machine and laser printer cartridges recharged; use worn towels and linens as cleaning rags; reuse foam packaging pellets or bubble wrap; install reusable furnace and air conditioner filters; choose a low-maintenance landscape design that uses few chemicals and little water. Reusing Waste Materials Many items that are thrown away could be reused. Worn-out or out-of-style items that are still usable can be donated to service organizations such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, homeless shelters, or group homes. Usable goods may include blankets, mattresses, china and glassware, food, sheets, towels, soap pieces, furniture, lamps, draperies, uniforms, and lost-and-found items. Recycling Waste Materials To recycle, you will need to locate markets for the materials and design a collection and storage system. Seek assistance from a recycling service or your local solid waste manager. Materials that can be recycled, depending on availability of a market, include cardboard boxes newspapers aluminum cans office paper glass bottles plastic containers steel cans yard debris food waste

5 telephone books magazines kitchen fats and oils laser printer cartridges construction and demolition debris. Step 4: Secure Recycling Markets Before you begin collecting recyclable materials, you must find someone to take them. You may choose to market the recyclable materials yourself or hire a recycling agency to remove them. The best choice depends on several variables, including the size of your facility, local market conditions, and the availability of recycling services. Your local waste management department can help determine the alternatives available in your area. Step 5: Set Up a Collection and Storage System The recycling service you select can help you design an in-house collection and storage system. Hotel managers have often found that no increase in staff is required to carry out a waste reduction program. There are several ways to reduce labor time and costs: Cardboard Integrate the separation and collection of recyclable wastes into normal work procedures. Putting an item into a recycling container takes the same amount of time as putting it into a trash can. Sort recyclable wastes the first time they are handled-for example, put corrugated boxes directly into a pile or container designated for recycling as soon as they are unpacked. Handle recyclable wastes as few times as possible. Corrugated cardboard probably makes up the greatest volume of your facility's waste stream. By recycling cardboard, you can save money on disposal costs. Depending on your recycling arrangement, you may also be able to make money from selling the cardboard. Many mediumsized and large hotels have purchased balers or compactors to manage their waste cardboard and get a better price for it. Other lodging facilities reserve a separate dumpster for recyclable cardboard. Guest Rooms The recyclable materials typically collected from guest rooms are newspapers, aluminum cans, and glass and plastic bottles. There are several ways to encourage guests to separate their recyclable wastes: (1) ask them to leave recyclable materials in a specified location in the roomfor example, on a table; (2) supply a bin for recyclable wastes in each room, or (3) set a recycling container near the elevators in each hallway or in another convenient location. Duffle or plastic bags can be added to housekeeping carts to collect recyclable materials. Customized carts with recycling bins are also available.

6 Offices Office workers can place recyclable paper in centralized bins. These bins should be placed in areas where large amounts of waste paper are generated-for example, next to copy machines. Each employee can keep a small box or container alongside the desk and empty it periodically into a centralized bin. You may be able to arrange for a recycling service to enter your facility and empty the centralized bins, or your custodial staff can transfer the paper to an outdoor storage container to await pickup. Restaurants and Lounges Bins can be provided in the kitchen and behind the bar for glass, aluminum, and plastic containers. Food wastes from the kitchen can be composted or offered to hog farmers. (Check with your local solid waste management department about the latter option.) Grease and oil can be picked up by a recycling service. Step 6: Buy Recycled Products Collecting recyclable wastes is the first step in recycling, but your facility must also purchase products made from recycled materials in order to participate fully in the recycling process. Buying recycled products helps develop the market for recyclable materials and increases their value. You'll find recycled items to be comparable in quality and price to products made from new materials. Make a commitment to buy recycled products and notify your vendors. Consider joining the National Buy Recycled Campaign, which educates and advocates businesses to "buy recycled." (See the resource list at end of this guide.) When you purchase supplies, look for the following items made with recycled materials: office, copier, and computer paper stationery-letterhead, envelopes, postcards, and business cards fax paper, note pads, and file folders promotional brochures cash register and calculator tapes forms facial tissue and toilet paper paper towels and napkins waste baskets and recycling bins construction materials carpeting Step 7: Train Your Staff and Promote the Program

7 The success of your recycling program will also depend on training and promotion to encourage full participation by staff members and guests. Employees need ongoing training on how to collect and store recyclable wastes, and guests need guidelines for separating materials to be recycled. Many hotels use table tent cards in guest rooms to describe the recycling program and encourage guests to participate. Keep employees informed of the progress of the program and recognize those who contribute to its success. Promote your program by letting your guests and the public know about your achievements. Print a brochure that describes your recycling program and waste reduction efforts. Send out press releases about your goals and accomplishments. Enter local and state waste reduction award competitions. Step 8: Establish an Evaluation and Monitoring Procedure You'll need ongoing monitoring and evaluation procedures to maintain a successful waste reduction program. Build flexibility into the program so you can make changes when necessary. Also, make backup plans to handle any emergencies that may arise. You may need to respond to changes in your facility's waste stream, state or local regulations, recycling costs, or recycling markets. Waste Reduction Resources The organizations and publications listed in this section can be a valuable source of information and assistance when developing a waste reduction, reuse, and recycling program for your facility. State and Local Organizations North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Contact your county Extension Center or: Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering N.C. State University Campus Box 7625 Raleigh, NC Attention: Rhonda Sherman, (919) NC-DEHNR Division of Pollution Prevention & Environmental Assistance P. O. Box Raleigh, NC (919) or (800) Your local recycling coordinator or solid waste management office North Carolina Recycling Assoc Chapel Hill Road

8 Raleigh, NC (919) Buy Recycled Campaign National Recycling Coalition th Street NW, Suite 304 Washington, DC (202) Publications Recycling and Source Reduction for the Lodging Industry American Hotel and Motel Association 1201 New York Ave. NW Washington, DC (202) Buy Recycled Products: How Your Office Can Complete the Recycling Loop National Office Paper Recycling Project U.S. Conference of Mayors 1620 Eye Street, NW, Fourth Floor Washington, DC (202) Official Recycled Products Guide Recoup Publishing Ltd. P.O. Box 577 Ogdensburg, NY (800) Business Recycling Manual INFORM, Inc. 381 Park Avenue South Suite 1201 New York, NY (212) The mention of lodging establishments in this publication does not imply endorsement of those establishments nor discrimination against others not mentioned. Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating. AG-439-3

9 Return to: BAE Extension Publications

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