"Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going."
- Paul Theroux


Views and Interviews

January 2023

Consumer Awareness Feature:
The benefits of organized waste management at resorts

Over the last decade, Waste Management has become a serious focus area drawing a great deal of attention in the hospitality industry – and there’s so much to do if you want to be optimally efficient.

To a large extent, Waste Management brings within its umbrella a resort’s “reduce, reuse, recycle” policy. And includes the purchasing of reusable products, reducing food waste through composting, reducing energy and water consumption, and safely disposing of hazardous materials.

Keeping in mind our topic for the month which is handling “Waste Management” in a responsible way, we reached out to professionals in the industry managing and handling these processes. (Names have been changed to protect their identity – a request made by these professionals.)

Kalpaka Naidu – Handles internal communications with staff and guests

According to me, raising awareness about waste management issues is a key responsibility area. We need to educate staff on proper waste disposal practices and ensure that everyone is aware of the hotel’s waste management program. At our resort we conduct training sessions at regular intervals – this is done to sustain awareness levels and make sure guidelines and instructions are followed diligently.

This effort includes conducting regular training sessions and providing resources and reference material that is easily available to both staff and guests. While staff orientation is important, I feel that our guests need to be educated and guided as well. And they need to be updated on two things. (A) What the hotel and its staff are doing in this area. (B) How the guest could join hands and participate in the effort – simply by doing his bit.

Prakash Somasundaram – In charge of Waste Management at a premier resort

To be organized in this space you first need to put in place a comprehensive waste management program that outlines how waste should be managed, recycled, and disposed of. The program should include guidelines for guests, staff, housekeeping, food & beverage, and other departments.

Your program should also cover the planned use of single-use plastics and other packaging materials wherever possible. You could also implement a reuse program for small items such as towels, linens, and toiletries.

The scope of the entire process is too large to encapsulate in this brief response, but you can close the loop by also ensuring that waste is transported to appropriate waste management facilities in an environmentally friendly manner. Do ensure appropriate disposal of hazardous materials, such as oils and solvents, in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

Kunal Kurukshetra – Helps plan waste management programs at his hotel

According to me, the concept of “reduce, reuse, recycle” is a lot more than a slogan, or a poster that you see all over the resort. It is an integrated policy that covers the purchasing of reusable products, reducing food waste through composting, reducing energy and water consumption, and properly disposing of hazardous materials.

Some of the individual tasks I am associated with go into a fair amount of detailing – I ensure that we check every box outlined in our waste management program. This may include providing reusable containers, promoting the use of refillable containers, and encouraging the use of reusable or recyclable materials whenever possible. We also encourage our guests to reuse their towels and room linen (within reasonable refresh cycles) to reduce and manage workloads at our laundry stations.

Ambika Mehta – Manages and monitors recycling processes at her hotel

Recycling at a hotel happens at a larger scale than recycling at home. According to me, it’s a process that continues to evolve at the speed of challenges thrown at you every single day.

Part of my responsibility is to define an all-encompassing process to cover recycling activity. To support this I need to provide resources, tools, time, and training to our assigned staff. I also need to promote this concern and effort among the guests staying with us.

At the end of the day, I need to look at so many items on our checklist that it fills up many columns on my spreadsheet. A comprehensive recycling program covers all areas of the hotel with a focus on the use of paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal.

Looking beyond what I have just outlined, we even need to go the extra mile and set up a recycling pick-up system with a local recycling company.

Satish Chandra – Composting supervisor at a resort

The task of composting at a hotel or resort is one job where you can dirty your hands every single day. And if you have a gagging problem when it comes to sights and smells, you should stay far away from this job. But people like me who have survived this for years, approach the task with a mission and purpose – because there are both long-term and short-term benefits for your resort. Then there is also a larger purpose that is served – one of compliance, and following universally recognized guidelines.

One of my key responsibilities is to drastically reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills - basically organic waste from the hotel’s kitchen and gardens. What we aim to do here is convert most of this into compost to be used in the hotel’s landscaping areas. Sometimes we even offer it to local farmers and gardens free of charge.

A lot of what we need to do is governed by clearly outlined activity planners that go into the smallest details. Such as clearly-labeled waste containers to promote proper waste segregation into recyclable, non-recyclable, compost, and hazardous waste.

That’s the beginning of effort that is difficult, time-consuming, and always hidden from the presentable sections of the hotel. We’re the backroom boys doing all the dirty work.

Some final thoughts you can use as takeaways . . .

  1. Think REUSABLE: Instead of supplies in single-use plastic packaging, hotels can switch to reusable/refillable containers, dispensers, and water bottles.
  2. Think COMPOSTABLE: Very useful to switch to compostable alternatives from single-use plastic straws, bags, and cutlery.

  3. Think RECYCLABLE: If you can’t switch, recycle all your plastic waste, including plastic bottles, containers, and packaging.
  4. Think SAVINGS: Use bulk dispensers for amenities. Hotels can provide guests with amenities in bulk dispensers, such as shampoo, conditioner, and lotion.
  5. Think LOCAL: Source local products. Hotels can source local products that are often packaged in more environmentally friendly materials.

Image credits:
All images used are from www.pexels.com.(rachel-claire-4997810, shvets-production-7512967, lisa-fotios-2952809, anna-shvets-5217778, mali-maeder-802221, thajudeen-aboobaker-13682408, sarah-chai-7262892)

Content Disclaimer: The views expressed in our interviews and stories do not necessarily reflect the official policies, practices and guidelines of the All India Resort Development Association, or its members. These views are based on personal experiences, private opinion, or open source information. (Images used here are either "paid-for" stock photos, images shared by the people we interview, or images under one of the open source licenses such as Creative Commons and others.)

Here’s a link to some recent interviews done by us on the AIRDA website

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