Zero Waste

Going Green for Hotels – Tips for Journeying to Zero Waste

Westin Wall Centre Guest Suite - Green Key Hotel

In 2017, there were more than 10.3 million people who were visitors to our wonderful home of Vancouver, BC. Many of whom stayed in the 23,000+ hotel rooms that exist in the region. Overall, the impact of those 10.3 million travelers adds up when it comes to the environmental resources and services needed to host them.

As a City that has massive attraction to travelers due to its natural beauty – it makes sense to ingrain environmentally friendly practices within the operations of hotels that these travelers are staying at.

Implementing waste reduction practices on-site are a key way to reduce a hotel’s environmental impact. Check out these 10 great tips to help your hotel reach zero waste!

  1. Educate staff and get them on-board with your waste reduction goals. Ensure that new hire training includes clear instructions about where recycling goes. Implement clear and consistent signage for both front and back of house bins. Strategically organize back of house recycling rooms so that material can be put into the correct bins and the rooms kept clean and orderly by staff.


Recycling Room with Signs


  1. Assess your waste and recycling disposal data and costs. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Get data about how much waste your hotel is generating. Conduct a waste audit to identify the most common materials in the hotel’s waste stream. Based on the audit’s results set-up enhanced services to recycle materials beyond standard recycling types (eg. recycle plastic bags, light bulbs, and Styrofoam).


  1. Provide drip-coffee machines in guest rooms. Avoid single plastic pod machines and opt for small drip-coffee machines that use coffee filters that are compostable. Ensure tea bags offered are compostable (many tea bags now contain plastics and are not compostable). Use washable ceramic mugs and avoid disposable plastic or paper cups.


  1. Put in place food waste reduction policies for the hotel’s restaurant or cafe. For example, ensure that staff are following stocking procedures regarding best before dates and freshness of food. Evaluate inventory to ensure you are not ordering too much and wasting it. Get creative about how buffet food is presented to limit large quantities having to be displayed at all times. Recycle cooking oil from hotel kitchens.


Washable dishware and cups for cafe

“DSCF4837”by M.Murakami is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


  1. Provide washable ceramic dishes and metal cutlery for hotel food services. Encourage customers to eat in house and cut down on take-away packaging and single use cutlery.


  1. Eliminate paper guest receipts. Email receipts to guests and only provide paper receipts on request.


  1. Provide recycling and food waste bins in guest suites. Also, provide bins in common areas such as hallways and cafes. Check out these suave recycling bins by Busch Systems!


Recycling bin set-up for 6 material types


  1. Have shampoo dispensers in guest suite bathrooms. This will eliminate the need for thousands of single use plastic containers and soap packages.


  1. Encourage guests to drink water from the tap and provide washable drinking glasses for it (not plastic cups). Charge for plastic bottles of water.


  1. Only supply eco-friendly and non-toxic cleaning products for your cleaning staff. This will likely eliminate the need for any industrial chemical disposal services. Keep in mind that some companies use misleading ‘greenwashed’ marketing labels about their products. Be sure to look for products certified by credible 3rd party organizations like Green Seal or Ecologo.








Author: Leah Coulter