The hospitality sector has come a long way in its sustainable practices but there is still a lot more that can be done to manage its impact on the environment. The potential cost savings and other benefits associated with effective waste management have until recently been overlooked. Regulations, environmental taxations and the need to ‘green up’ means the hospitality industry must now broaden its focus on resource management, looking not only at energy and water, but also waste.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report entitled ‘The Composition of Waste Disposed of by the UK Hospitality Industry’, estimates that hotels, pubs and restaurants generate 3.4 million tonnes of waste every year.
Unsurprisingly this waste comprises mainly of food, paper, glass and cardboard. What may come as a surprise is that less than half of this waste is actually recycled, reused or composted. Some 1.5 million tonnes is thrown away into general waste bins, meaning it is burnt or ends up in landfill, however 80 percent or more of this could easily be recycled.
Using general waste bins as the default is becoming increasingly expensive with the rising cost of disposal. Landfill tax is currently at £72 per tonne, rising by £8 per tonne every year. Since the price of landfill forms the benchmark price for general waste, other disposal routes for general waste such as energy from waste (efw) are also rising. These costs directly impact a business’s bottom line.
Outlining the scale of the potential savings to the hospitality sector from waste prevention and recycling, the report claims that savings of around £722 million a year could be achieved in the industry.
Reducing the impact of waste disposal costs is relatively simple. At the very least, businesses should be separating as much of their recyclable waste at source as possible as this minimises their exposure to general waste disposal costs. This can be further supported by putting in place a waste solution that reflects the amounts and types of waste you produce as well as the amount of space and resource available to manage it.
According to the report, a significant proportion of hospitality businesses suggested that they were planning to recycle more in the future, however, the most commonly cited barriers to recycling were lack of services in their area and space constraints.
By utilising the services of a waste management company with hospitality specialism, these barriers are easily overcome.The company will evaluate your waste, identifying practical opportunities to improve recycling performance. Part of this process will also involve identifying any operational changes that could be implemented to benefit the business, such as the installation of baling or glass crushing machines.
Technological advancements have lead to glass crushing machines becoming more commonplace in hospitality outlets, particularly where lack of space is an issue. A typical glass crusher will reduce the volume of bottles to one fifth of their original size, making handling and storage much easier and disposal much cheaper.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution in the hospitality sector. The important thing is that the approach taken to develop an effective waste plan starts within the businesses own processes, not at the bins.
An all too often overlooked aspect of improving recycling is staff engagement. The most wonderful array of recycling facilities can be a proverbial chocolate fireguard if there isn’t buy-in at every level within the organisation. This doesn’t just mean telling people what to do, but also why it needs to be done, and then providing feedback on progress and performance. It is motivating for all concerned to see the difference that the changes in practises have made and even better if there can be a bit of competition between different premises or departments.
Effective waste management is not just about saving money. One should consider the need for good Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR is not just a buzz word, it is becoming increasingly important to hotels, pubs and restaurants, as customers expect an ethos of responsible business to be part and parcel of business operations. The power of a green business approach should not be under estimated in its influence over consumer buying decisions.
CSR is about how companies manage the business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society. To put this into context in the hospitality industry, most restaurants will be able to tell their customers exactly where their steak has come from and how and by whom it has been reared. Customers now expect hotels to engage in environmentally sound practices and to be able to demonstrate it.
In order to show improved performance in this area, companies need to be able to monitor and measure their performance. It is therefore important to ensure that a waste plan considers data collection and reporting. Good information made available to management, saves time, simplifies compliance monitoring, allows the identification of further opportunities and provides plenty of opportunity for positive PR.
For further information on how to efficiently plan and manage your waste strategy and help reduce your organisations environmental impact, contact Specialist Waste Recycling on 0800 038 0300 or visit www.swrwastemangement.co.uk