Ask Jonathon Hospitality Advice Column

Ciao Jonathon,

I work in the housekeeping department of a hotel, and I’m shocked by how much waste gets thrown out every day: mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, soap. Also a few years ago our hotel added recycle bins in the guest rooms, but they don’t separate their trash a lot of times. Do you know any ways we can be more conscientious with our waste in general?


Sad for the Planet

Ciao Sad,

Thanks for bringing up this issue as it’s one particularly close to my heart. Hotel waste is quite extraordinary since hygiene standards – or at least the perception of them – are so high and directly correlated to guest satisfaction and, ultimately, the bottom line. It’s heartbreaking to think of our landfills full of half-empty bottles of shampoo and barely used mini bars of soap, but that is the reality. Fortunately there are a few industry-tested solutions your hotel can adopt:

  • There are several different services available to hotels now for recycling guest amenities, like this example. These services will collect your used amenities, recycle them and distribute them to underprivileged parts of the world. Others focus on Zero Waste Management, which advocates for alternative ways to dispose of waste outside traditional landfills and incineration.
  • I truly believe that as our guests become increasingly aware of their environmental footprint, the trend for individual bath amenities and the taboo around dispensers will shift. I suspect luxury product dispensers like these will be more widely accepted and prevalent.

Second, executing a proper recycling program for your guests is easier said than done. To ensure maximum participation, it must be made as clear and simple as possible what kind of waste goes where. Multiple waste receptacles in a guest room where space is an economy is already a difficult feat, but can be done. Since waste separation is different for each city it’s impossible to offer any general solution, but consider that clear, conspicuous printed labels (Plastic, Metal, Glass, Paper, etc.) on your containers are the most effective. Have them printed or engraved to fit the style of your guest room so they don’t appear an after thought.

You could even stress the importance of recycling at check-in by either mentioning the presence of separated receptacles at reception or having the bellman point them out when (s)he accompanies the guests to their room.

The other crucial aspect for effectively implementing a successful recycling program in your hotel is training your housekeeping staff to discard of the waste properly and providing them with the appropriate equipment to do so easily. This means accommodating multiple garbage bags on their carts and keeping the garbage separated in all BOH areas as well.

Today guests care and appreciate even more about hotels’ efforts to operate in a more environmentally-attentive fashion. Small changes can have a huge impact overall for the greater good.


“Ask Jonathon” is a Hospitality Advice Column by Jonathon Dominic Spada, founder of SAYHELLO Creative, a hospitality consulting and creative agency based in California and Rome, Italy.

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