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How To Implement Stepwise Sustainability Programs for Your Hotel Business

Begin your business’ journey of building sustainability programs to decrease waste and energy footprints.

How To Implement Stepwise Sustainability Programs for Your Hotel Business

Balancing guest health, safety, and comfort with minimal environmental impact presents a massive opportunity for the hospitality industry. For instance, diverting single-use toiletries and implementing energy conservation measures can benefit your hospitality business’ reputation, bottom line, and attractiveness to eco-conscious guests.

But how does a hotelier begin building out such programs?

Like many grand challenges, the journey begins with the first step. Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies for waste reduction and energy conservation that can be customized and prioritized based on what makes most sense for your establishment in terms of financial constraints or otherwise feasibility. Below, we will explore how to get started on reducing waste and energy usage at your hotel.

Cleaning Up Your Hotel’s Waste Diversion Program

When it comes to decreasing waste, the most impactful step in any operation is to “turn off the tap.” Businesses in the hospitality industry can implement waste reduction practices, such as minimizing single-use plastics, to avoid fines and promote sustainability. Replacing orders of plastic water bottles and straws with water refill stations for guests to replenish their own reusable water bottles encourages more sustainable behavior.

For waste that cannot otherwise be prevented or reduced, repurposing it is the next best alternative. Clean the World is a non-profit organization that collects and recycles hotel soap, shampoo, and other toiletries to distribute them to people in need. The program aims to reduce waste while also supporting hygiene education and disease prevention in impoverished communities. Hotels can take advantage of this program as an avenue to divert materials and contribute to society.

Comprehensive recycling programs are another important tactic to reduce waste to landfill. Separating paper; plastic; and organic waste, which includes food waste, yard waste, and other biodegradable materials, can help recover valuable resources. Organic waste can be composted to create nutrient-rich soil for gardens and farms, whereas in a landfill environment, it produces potent greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

To incentivize organic waste diversion, many states and cities already require businesses to separate organic waste, with non-compliance being punishable by fine. In California, businesses generating more than 4 cubic yards of commercial solid waste per week are required to have a recycling program in place. Fines can range from $100 to $1,000 per violation per day. Similarly, in New York City, businesses generating more than 10,000 pounds of organic waste per week are required to separate and recycle it. Fines for non-compliance can cost up to $500 per day.

By taking efforts to “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” your hotel can reap the benefits of greening on your reputation and bottom line.

Powering Down Your Hotel Business Through Energy Conservation

Energy conservation is another important objective hotels should consider when building effective sustainability programs, starting at the source. Redesigning energy systems by transitioning to renewable energy sources (e.g., solar panels); switching to energy-efficient lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems; and installing smart thermostats can significantly reduce energy footprints.

Additionally, hotels can encourage guests to conserve energy by providing information on how to reduce energy usage in their rooms. Simple measures, such as turning off lights and electronics when not in use and reusing towels and linens, can positively affect energy consumption on site, especially when it becomes part of the guest culture.

Working with suppliers to source products that are sustainable and eco-friendly allows hoteliers to indirectly decrease their energy impact. Sustainable alternatives might include organic cotton linens, recycled paper products, and environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies. Many of these also have a dually positive effect on waste diversion.

Checking Into Opportunities for Your Hotels’ Sustainability

In conclusion, the hospitality industry has a significant impact on the environment, and every effort to reduce waste and conserve energy is warranted. Existing programs like Clean the World can help kickstart your hotel business’ broader waste and energy programs, as well as start to change the behavior of your staff and guests for the betterment of our planet.

If you are interested in learning more about how your establishment is currently performing or how to build out programs like these, please reach out to our Hospitality Client Manager Christian Dettman at

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