hotel waste management
Ways to Reduce Hotel Waste

How to Reduce Waste in Hotels and Hospitality

Hotels in the UK create 289,700 tonnes of waste every year. This includes everything from food waste and packaging to bedding, broken electricals, and general waste. It’s not surprising as almost 35 million people use hotels in the UK annually for business trips, holidays, and visiting friends and family.

Efficient processes and effective management are essential in hotels and across the wider hospitality industry to deal with and reduce such high volumes of waste. Cutting back on waste benefits the environment. It also enhances your hotel’s reputation, keeps it clean, and saves money on waste collection and disposal costs.

Recycling rubbish from hotels is great but reducing waste in the first place is even better. Discover how to reduce waste in hotels and the wider hospitality industry with these expert tips.

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Why is it important to 
reduce hospitality waste?

Reducing waste in the hospitality industry helps cut down on the amount of rubbish sent to landfill sites. This uses valuable space and has a negative environmental impact. Especially focusing on reducing food waste in the hospitality sector can help lower greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Minimising how much waste hotels and hospitality produce improves efficiencies and helps lower management costs as you’ll need fewer collections. This also has a positive environmental impact with fewer journeys required, which uses less fuel and has a lower carbon footprint. Plus, recycling and reducing waste lessens landfill tax payments.

Waste is especially unseemly in the hospitality industry. Paying hotel guests don’t want to stumble across overflowing bins or smell awful odours from mountains of rotting food. Reducing waste minimises the risk of bins overflowing or hygiene issues building up in your hotel or B&B that could negatively impact your business’ reputation too.

hotel room.

Hotel waste facts

There are nearly 10,000 hotels in the UK that all generate different types and amounts of waste every day. The majority of this is organic waste (such as food), followed by paper and cardboard, plastic, and glass. Some definitions of the hospitality industry include restaurants and pubs, but here we’re mainly focusing on hotels.

A few harrowing hotel waste facts and stats are that:

  • Hotels are responsible for 10% of commercial food waste produced in the UK
  • The UK hotel industry creates 79,000 tonnes of food waste annually
  • A 200-room hotel uses around 300,000 bits of single-use plastic every month
  • The average hotel room uses between 60,000 and 120,000 litres of water each year
  • An average hospitality business spends up to £50,000 every year sending waste food to landfill
  • In 2011 it was reported that 87% of waste generated by the hospitality industry goes to landfill
  • Tourism in general is estimated to produce around 35 million tonnes of waste annually

How to reduce 
waste in hotels

The main areas where hotels create waste are in the bedrooms, kitchen, bar, and restaurant. Types of waste vary greatly from leftover food to broken TVs and soiled bedsheets. It might not be pleasant, but every hotel needs a strong waste management plan in place to tackle waste production, storage, and removal.

Follow these tips for ways to reduce hotel waste:

  • Reduce single-use toiletries – have refillable soap, shower gel, and shampoo dispensers in your hotel bathrooms rather than individual small bottles of each. This saves on lots of packaging waste and it’s cheaper to bulk buy. Avoid providing small tubes of toothpaste and disposable toothbrushes as well, which get used and then chucked away after just one or two uses. Most guests bring their own anyway.
  • Cut cleaning product waste – bulk buying cleaning products and refilling spray bottles and containers also reduce plastic packaging waste. Remove half-used toilet rolls from guest bedrooms and place them in the staff or restaurant toilets to avoid waste.
  • Donate old items – if you’re having a hotel refurbishment and changing furniture or upgrading to newer TVs, consider donating old items to charity. Even items such as damaged bedding may be accepted by animal shelters or local farms to use as bedding for any animals.
  • Upcycle items – upcycling is a great way to prolong the life of various items across your hotel. Clean and dry glass jars and bottles make an atmospheric light for tables in guest rooms or the restaurant, simply pop in a candle or battery-powered light string. Old furniture that’s being replaced could simply have a new cover added.
  • Limit water wastage – install taps and shower heads that reduce water consumption to reduce waste. Have a policy where bedding, linen, and towels are only washed at the end of a stay or on request, rather than daily washes of everything. Any hotel with a swimming pool should have a lid on it to avoid evaporation.
  • Provide labelled recycling bins – guests and staff are going to create waste in one way or another. Having a range of clearly labelled recycling bins in both guest rooms and communal areas increases the chance of any glass, plastic, packaging, paper, and cardboard being recycled rather than disposed of with general waste. This helps reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.
Hotel waste management

How to reduce food waste 
in the hospitality industry

The food service industry produces around 250,000 tonnes of food waste every year in the UK. Hotels and the hospitality industry are responsible for a big chunk of this and need to do more to reduce waste food where possible. If food waste ends up in landfill it rots and produces methane that contributes to global warming.

Many of the same steps for how to reduce food waste in general also apply to hotels and the hospitality industry. Here are a few ways to reduce food waste in the hospitality industry:

  • Conduct a food waste audit – assess what types and amounts of waste food your hotel generates, where and when. For example, are more leftovers created at breakfast than at evening meals? Identify problem areas and ways to improve them and then measure your progress with regular reviews to continue minimising food waste in your hotel.
  • Plan menus carefully – supply and demand are key, so understanding what dishes are popular with guests is vital. This helps you order the right types and amount of ingredients, so you don’t end up with leftover stock that expires before it’s used. Use any ingredients you have in excess as a daily special to get rid of them.
  • Buy sustainable products – bulk buy ingredients to reduce packaging waste and save money, such as pasta, vegetables, olive oil, and more. Work with products that come in recyclable or minimal packaging and from sustainable sources. Using local suppliers reduces transportation costs and the amount of fuel and emissions.
  • Control portion sizes – plate waste is a big source of food waste in hotels and the hospitality industry. Generous portions are appreciated, and you don’t want to be stingy, but if there are lots of leftovers it might be time to adjust portion sizes. Control plate and dish sizes and have some sides as optional extras. You can even offer recyclable packaging for guests to take away any leftover food.
  • Train your team – preparation processes are another area of food waste in hospitality. Ensure your team is familiar with your waste policy and trained to chop ingredients and prepare dishes with as little waste as possible. Collect data where possible to assess and improve kitchen performance.
  • Donate leftover food – whatever you try your hotel or hospitality venue will create some food waste. Tinned food or fresh ingredients close to expiry can be donated to local food banks. Farms and some animal shelters may accept leftovers as feed for their animals or composting. Either way it avoids waste food going to landfill.
hotel breakfast on a tray.

Read more waste reduction guides

It’s not just hotels and the hospitality industry that needs to reduce waste. Discover how to reduce other types of waste and across different areas with our expert guides.

How to reduce waste
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