Composting 101 for Hotels

Wait, wait, don’t throw out those coffee grounds! Welcome to hotel composting 101: where your hotel makes a good environmental impact and saves money to boot. Composting programs (for food and plant matter) at hotels can start in the kitchen and exterior grounds and travel all the way into guest rooms. That’s right. A luxury hotel in Texas offers in-room organic material collection, AKA en suite composting for eco-friendly guests.

Starting in the kitchen

Food waste in commercial kitchens is no joke. A busy hotel can produce 500 tons of waste per year without blinking twice. Hotels that partner with composting facilities reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills (you’re welcome) and save thousands in waste costs each year. Plus, eco-minded travelers will appreciate the hotel’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Here are some steps to get started:

  1. Check in with the garbage man. Your current waste management company can tell you how many tons of trash your hotel accumulates each year. Ask for cost breakdowns by month and the number of pickups per week. Do the math.
  2. Hello, landing dock! Spend some time analyzing the property to determine the challenges and benefits of improving existing recycling methods and implementing composting. Don’t forget about natural waste from tree clippings, leaves and grass.
  3. Set a start date. Get estimates from food composting facilities and figure out the potential cost savings.
  4. Warn the chef. No, seriously: Get staff input, especially kitchen and custodial service employees. They’re going to be essential to success.
  5. Go the extra mile. Consider donating excess, edible food to a local food bank. Many food banks will work with hotels to make donations of edible food a safe and smooth transition.

Moving to the guest rooms

Guests can play a part in hotel composting, too. The Four Seasons in Austin, Texas, provides compost and recycle bins right in the room to encourage guest participation. Amazingly, one year after instituting this practice along with other efforts to become a Zero Waste hotel, the Four Seasons reached its goal. Zero Waste is defined as diverting 90% of waste from the landfill.

Earth Day is right around the corner—and so is some nutrient-rich soil, thanks to compost.