Two of the hardest hit industries of the COVID-19 pandemic have been hospitality and tourism. When countries locked down its borders, traveling for business turned into virtual meets and vacations were put on hold. As society continues and possibly nears the end of its fight against the pandemic, the hotel industry has a chance to reset and do things better. Here’s our quick green guide on how hotels can begin a sustainable recovery from COVID-19.

  1. Start with a waste audit

“You cannot manage what you haven’t measured”

The road to sustainability begins with understanding what types of waste are being generated. As operations resume, hotels are encouraged to investigate what is being recycled, what can be recycled, what can be avoided, and what will still be going for disposal.

At Don’t Waste, our client’s waste audits are done by trained professionals, who thoroughly analyse the generated waste streams, create a waste profile, and present advanced reports containing detailed recommendations on any potential actions that can be taken by the hotel, to further improve its environmental footprint. This can be done through either avoidance or alternate treatment, source segregation, or even a simple change of behaviour.

  1. Empower your teams

Every layer of the hotel’s organogram should buy into the sustainability initiatives of the hotel. This is done through collaborative efforts of cross functional teams, support from senior management and most importantly, education on responsible environmental management practices. Nominating Green Champions will encourage teams to drive sustainable changes and create a sense of responsibility and accountability.

Refresher courses on, for example, Environmental Management System (EMS (ISO 14001), Quality Management System (ISO 9001), and best practice workshops will further empower employees in understanding environmental compliance, quality standards, and legal obligations. (Read: The impact of best practice waste management workshops in the retail industry).

Don't Waste Best Practice Waste Management Workshops

  1. Green your supply chain

It’s an opportune time to revaluate your supply chains. Disruptions from the pandemic exposed how vulnerable global sourcing can be. Using local suppliers will certainly improve bottom lines, and reduce your hotel’s carbon footprint. You can further improve your ESG standing by partnering with local suppliers and empower them to also implement sustainable practices. Creating a localised network of “green” suppliers will help you mitigate future risks and disruptions.

Reusable shampoo bottles

  1. Reduce Food Wastage

The hospitality sector contributed to approximately 12% of global food waste volumes. Food waste can be categorised into: (a) avoidable waste that was fit for human consumption, but becomes inedible at time of disposal; (b) unavoidable food waste (e.g. eggshells) and (c) potentially avoidable food waste that is consumed at times, but not frequently (e.g. fruit/vegetable peels).

Don’t Waste investigated technology options for both avoidance (Read: Technology vs Food Waste- Part 1: How Software Can Help Avoid Food Waste ) and recycling (Read: Technology vs Food Waste- Part 2: How Hardware Can Help Recycle Food Waste) of food waste.

We provide operational and financial modelling for various technology options, and we’re also involved in the operation of the units. Our software systems allow for the integration of the new on-site treatment into the standard service offering, so that the correct grades are sorted and checked. Don’t Waste also adopts an innovative approach of sourcing material through cross customer engagement, to maximise the utilisation of the technology.

food waste hardware

  1. Be Water and Energy Smart

The UK Environmental Agency suggests that hotels can potentially reduce the amount of water per guest, per night by up to 50%.

  • The first step is to create a water management plan that will frame water-saving targets, planning, and the time and resources to achieve them.
  • Identify current water consumption costs, using a yearly average (ideally before 2020), to assist in setting realistic and achievable targets.
  • Set a water conservation plan by engaging your staff to contribute suggestions to reduce water usage and offer solutions for implementation.

water Saving Tips

On average, hotels spend 6% of their operating costs on energy each year. Developing an energy plan can create opportunities for improved guest comfort, reduction in operating costs, and, of course, less impact on the environment.

  • Upgrade lighting to energy-efficient bulbs and technologies, e.g. occupancy sensor lights that switch off when the room is unoccupied.
  • Energy-efficient water heating systems.
  • Increase use of daylighting
  • Maintain air-conditioning units regularly and monitor the quality of air filters during peak seasons.
  • Encourage housekeeping staff to switch off lights after making up the rooms.
  • Purchase ENERGY STAR certified products: computers, TV’s, printers, other appliances.

Is this the right time to implement a sustainable strategy for your hotel?

If anything, the pandemic has emphasised how interconnected businesses are to the environment. A breakdown in nature leaves us vulnerable to disruptions, which in turn, causes devastating effects on socio-economic conditions. This pause moment allows hotels, and the rest of the world, to plan and do better for everyone. A hotel built on the foundations of sustainability will inevitably attract the growing number of visitors and corporates who are predispose to environmentally responsible venues and destinations.


Don’t Waste provides industry leading business intelligence, site management, and waste management services to Property, Retail, Commercial, Industrial and Hospitality industries. Our customers include the world’s leading property management groups. To find out more about our innovative value-added systems and services in onsite waste operations, contact:

Linus Naik- Group Manager: Sustainability & Business Development (Email: I Mobile: +27 82 552 0675).

Michael Foreman- Managing Director UK (Email: I Mobile: +44 7939 027193).

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