Waste Management :
According to Green Hotels, “an average hotel produces in excess of one kilogram of waste per guest per day,” 30% of which they could be diverting from the landfill. Given that recycling feels like a mainstream practice, it’s surprising that only 48% of resorts employ recycling in guest rooms; 61% record and track their waste recycling.
Water pollution is a major byproduct of the tourism industry, caused by activities such as coastal development, waste discharge, guest attractions (e.g., recreational boating), and construction (e.g., mangrove clearing, reef destruction). While the industry seems to focus more on water consumption than pollution, there are some examples of resorts that work to protect their waterways.
Bottled water alternatives:
Eco-Business estimates that a four-star hotel will use as many as 20,000 plastic water bottles in a single month. While this is only a portion of hotel plastic use, it is relatively addressable through water filtration systems, glass or alternative vessels, filling stations, and staff and guest education. Where this is not possible due to regional constraints, Sustainable Tourism 2030 suggests procuring water bottles locally, to decrease energy consumption in transportation.
The International Tourism Partnership indicates that hotels will need to decrease their 2010 emissions by 66% over the next 10 years in order to get in line with the Paris Agreement. This highlights the importance of measuring and reporting emissions, which can be done using the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative tool. This tool calculates CO2 emissions per room, including the ‘cost’ of power, AC, heating, laundry, and vehicles used by hotels.
A recent report found that 80.3% of global resorts have ensured that at least 50% of their cleaning products are green-certified. While this number is trending up, resorts trail behind other hotel types for green product use and could certainly be doing better. While going green can be costly in the short term, it is a relatively easy item to check off that doesn’t require guest education, construction or retrofits. And not all strategies require financial investment either; simply asking guests if they want their space cleaned daily can be effective in decreasing cleaning product use.
In 2018, 62.1% of global resorts had implemented bulk shampoo and soap dispensers, though this number varied by region, with the Americas coming in last after EMEA (Europe/Middle East/Africa) and Asia Pacific. While it can be difficult to manage expectations from guests, the founder of Travel Without Plastics notes that well-thought-out guest communications can mitigate this. She recommends involving guests in the process, asking for their input, and conveying the benefits of waste reduction.
Did you know that in a single month, a four-star hotel may use up to 300,000 items of single-use plastic? This includes everything from shampoo bottles and garbage bags to food packaging and cleaning supplies. And while 64% of global resorts have eliminated plastic straws, only 38.6% have eliminated or reduced their reliance on single-use plastics overall. The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has taken strides to expand their action, not only eliminating straws and single-use toiletries, but also moving to wooden key cards, water bottle alternatives, and shoreline cleanups.
The United Nations Development Programme defines sustainable procurement as “making sure that the products and services we buy are as sustainable as possible, with the lowest environmental impact and most positive social results.” For resorts, this means contracting local suppliers, buying in bulk, and purchasing carbon-reducing equipment and sustainable materials. Not only does sustainable procurement have the power to decrease carbon emissions and improve the bottom line, but it’s also thought that the tourism industry, through its purchasing power, could provide a market signal for sustainable procurement on a much broader scale.