Having recently taken over a hotel (accommodating for up to 16 guests 7 days per week), so far we’ve managed to reduce our landfill by at least 85%. We still have further to go, which will be progressing over coming months, but it’s a pretty good start.
This was quite simply achieved by seperating our rubbish, and putting most of it to recycling. (ie down from an 1100 litre dumpy bin, to the equivalent of around 2 dustbin bags a week of landfill: less than the average families landfill I see at the side of the road).
For example we now recycle:
- all suitable paper and card
- recyclable plastics (numbers 1-5), metals and tins
- recyclable glass
- tetra-pack cartons (lids seperated)
- Tassimo disks from our various machines at the hotel (2p for each one recycled also goes to charity)
- Nespresso capsules (recycled by Nespresso directly).
- Reduced food wastage by cooking great food, to order (so there’s also less left by our guests)
- Buy only fsc approved toilet and facial tissues (ie recycled, and/or sustainable)
- Use energy saving bulbs throughout most of the hotel (both halogen, and tube style)
- Turn off thermostats in our rooms when they’re not booked
- Open windows to naturally air the place as much as possible (rather than just using chemicals)
- fix leaking taps, etc
We’ve now found a suitable commercial recycle company, who can collect much our recyclable materials on a fortnightly basis. Those items they can’t recycle directly, but we can, we still keep aside and recycle ourselves through other companies.
We also reduced the visits by the waste companies (fortnightly or less), to reduce the environmental impact of their travel to us in their large heavy vehicles.
It’s unfortunately, that in my experience, most businesses aren’t willing to take these steps to reduce their environmental impact.
I do appreciate there is still a lot more we can do ourselves (and already have plans to do so), and we’re trying to maintain the balance of luxury and quality with our environmental impact.
However, speaking to the guy changing over our dumpy bin recently (to one much smaller), he was also sharing how for the farm he also works on, they are still heavily discouraged by price.
For example, on his farm, plastic bags and wrapping (from feed, etc.) can either be recycled, or put in a skip for landfill.
- If they put it in the skip, and it goes straight to a hole in the ground, they get charged around £200 a year.
- If they collect the same volume for recycling, it’s around 3 times that price!
Not surprisingly, and unfortunately, for immediate cost reasons they therefore choose to put it all in landfill.
I also remember, back in 2001 when I used to work in a call centre in a town centre, virtually all the rubbish we ever disposed of was shredded office paper. At that time, business landfill waste was free. Recycling the premium paper however was quite a considerable cost in addition!
Until these basics change, I can’t see many other businesses taking steps to reduce their environmental impact. I haven’t seen the figures, but I’m sure it will make a significant difference if more businesses are encouraged with their bottom line, to change.
It doesn’t take much once the changes are made, the biggest challenge seems to be in the change in work practices initially. Trial it for a couple of weeks if you need to (even if you still keep sending it to landfill), and when it works, you can make it company policy on a constant basis!