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Recycling // Thought Leadership // Knowledge Base

Managing The Complex Waste Streams Of Hotels In A Better Way

Here's why hotels should choose sustainability, a look at waste in the hospitality industry, and what can be done to overcome waste management challenges.

Bradford Arick | October 27, 2022


Tourism contributes nearly $6 trillion to the worldwide economy each year. Hotels produce an average of nearly 320,000 tons of waste over that same time frame. At RoadRunner, we understand hospitality facilities often have a wide variety of waste streams that need to be managed efficiently. Embracing sustainability, actively reducing waste, and making travelers themselves part of the solution are all measures that can aid efficient waste management.

We’re looking into why hotels should choose sustainability, the types of waste generated in the hospitality industry, and what can be done to overcome those waste management challenges.

READ MORE: How RoadRunner works for Hotels & Hospitality businesses

Why hotels should embrace sustainability

Studies in 2017 and 2018 show the vast majority of Millennials and Gen Z are willing to pay more for products and services that do not harm the environment. More than 50% of baby boomers are also willing to spend more for sustainability. 

Choosing sustainability can make your hotel or hospitality business stand out to a newer, more diverse clientele. An efficient waste management program is a sustainable one. Customers want to know that when they recycle a plastic bottle at your hotel it is in fact being diverted from the landfill. They want to know that your facility is choosing ways to reduce the overall volume of waste. All of this can lead to higher profits for your business. You’re not only catering to the population groups with the largest buying power, but you’re also working to protect the environment.

Why are hotel waste programs sometimes so complex?

The hospitality industry by its nature leads to a wide variety of waste streams. There’s often food waste as many places have a restaurant, cafe, or room service. There are potentially hazardous chemicals used for cleaning rooms and spa areas. Hotels also tend to have multiple garbage cans in each room along with bins in hallways and lobbies. There’s waste generated through landscaping and paper waste that comes from the office. All of this material needs to be disposed of properly.

Conducting a waste audit to find out how much of these materials you have to get rid of can be a great place to get started. It allows you to find opportunities for waste diversion. Can food waste or landscape cuttings be composted? Are there better locations for recycling bins in the lobby? There’s also the chance your hotel can save money. Your waste audit might find your dumpsters are only half full when they’re being serviced. Less volume through diversion and a reduced pickup schedule can lend itself to cost savings. An in-depth look at your facility’s waste means you’re taking an active role in finding a better solution. 

These measures are another step on the path to sustainability. Saving money and protecting the environment can both be good for business.

CLICK HERE to read more from our Waste Watchers Blog!

make customers part of the solution

Sustainability can be what attracts travelers to a hotel. Making them part of the solution to protect the areas they’re visiting can enhance their stay. Offer guests a way to opt out of daily room cleaning. It can lead to huge cost savings as well as reductions in energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Adding additional towel racks in rooms is another easy way to encourage guests to go green while staying there. Offer them perks each day they do not request a new towel. Hotels can also encourage consumers to utilize reusable coffee mugs and water bottles. A bottle-filling station prominently positioned in the lobby can be a fantastic amenity that sets your business apart from others. 

Hotels can also share waste stream management programs with guests. It educates them on why recycling is important, why low-flow toilets are used, or why their room has light-detecting sensors. Explain to patrons how composting helps enhance their meals at the on-site restaurant. These measures give them a greater understanding of why your hotel is working hard to reduce its environmental impact. 


Developing a brand that is truly sustainable attracts more patrons. That increases profits and protects the environment at the same time. The hotel industry accounts for 21% of tourism-related environmental impacts. Long-term plans that involve cutting energy usage, reducing waste, and utilizing green technology can begin to offset that. Doing a better job of managing waste is also a step in the right direction.

RoadRunner has experience managing the complicated field of hospitality waste streams in ways that are efficient and save our customers money. Trash, recyclables, and compost can be dealt with in ways that save your hospitality business money while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the post-COVID-19 travel boom, more people than ever are choosing to travel to breathtaking places around the world. They’re also more conscious of the impacts they’re having on these destinations. The power of RoadRunner’s green technology can work for your business in this new world of eco-conscious tourists.



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