The most important factor in capturing high levels of recycling front-of-house in hotels will be clear guest information and signage to let visitors know what facilities are available and what is expected of them. It is worth noting that many will be familiar with recycling at home and at work already so they may well be predisposed to recycle and even welcome the opportunity to “do the right thing” during their stay.
The Regulations require you to make all reasonable efforts to ensure the separation of the five key recyclables however there are spatial and aesthetic considerations within hotels so it would clearly not be deemed reasonable to have five separate recycling bins in one room.
Mixing certain dry recyclable materials with one another (co-mingling) is acceptable provided your waste service provider can deliver the same quality as if the materials had been collected separately. The Duty of Care Code of Practice makes it clear that mixing glass with paper and card is not acceptable, additionally paper and card should be kept dry in order to maximise its recyclable value. The starting point should be a discussion with the company collecting your waste to establish a recycling service that complements your business.
Due to the varied nature of the waste arising in hotel bedrooms, health and safety considerations make it unacceptable to expect housekeeping to separate material from bins.
Having consulted with the industry, it has emerged that a significant proportion of guests tend not to use the bins provided. It is suggested that:
- guests are encouraged to leave recyclable waste out of the bins
- housekeepers segregate materials into separate bags on their trolleys
- one bag is used to collect residual waste from the bins in the room.
- as a minimum, paper and card must be segregated from glass
- ideally, a third recycling bag is used for plastic and metals to reduce double handling and contamination.
- housekeeping should be advised that most liquids will contaminate recycling and containers should be emptied wherever possible
- food waste arising in the room should be collected by room service wherever possible and returned to the kitchen for recycling.
Another option might be to ask guests to put all residual waste in the bathroom bin and put only dry recyclable materials in a bin in the main room with glass left somewhere else. You may find having areas guests can drop off their recycling would work. But you will know what will work best in your establishment and you should work with your waste management contractor and your staff to deliver the best results.
With the best will in the world, you cannot dictate your guests behaviour but by providing recycling facilities and giving clear, concise instructions on their use you will be fulfilling your legal duty.