The tourism and hospitality industry is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing economic sectors globally, which is proving to have a serious, negative impact on the environment.
Verde Hotels is a sustainable property development company, whose holistic approach to developing environmentally conscious properties is making its mark with significant, positive results around waste minimisation and management strategies and processes.
Dawie Meiring, group systems and sustainability manager at Verde Hotels, says the primary objective is to ensure that the properties it develops and operate have systems in place to minimise the consumption of natural resources, avoid and lower the generation of waste, reduce, re-use, recycle and recover waste where possible, and, as a last resort, treat and safely dispose of waste.
It is also supremely important to inform, educate and get the buy-in of staff, stakeholders, guests and the community to support and sustain environmental initiatives at ground level. At Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport, for example, all staff undergo sustainability training with the hotel’s eco team so they are up to speed on all things sustainable.
The hotel actions and encourages responsible procurement, buys in bulk and uses eco-friendly alternatives; they bottle their own water in re-usable bottles, and promote operations that minimize waste in general.
Meiring states that the figures for Hotel Verde Cape Town are phenomenal, having exceeded their waste-to-land fill targets of 85% set in 2013 to 97.06% in 2018.
“And of the 2.2kg of waste generated per guest per stay only 64 grams could not be diverted from landfill - it isn’t just not re-cyclable but is also not re-usable, compostable or up-cyclable – but we are actively searching for new ways of re-purposing this waste too.”
Year-on-year the hotel has also achieved a 36% reduction in waste production which equates to a saving of 71 tonnes of waste not being generated – no mean feat!
Leslie van Zyl, commercial operation manager at Waste Plan, which specialises in waste management and provides on-site staff, says they sort and recycle as much as possible before disposing only the minimum waste to landfill.
Zero to Land Fill Organics is another company which provides training, educational material and separation systems for the setting up of organic waste separation programmes to business, as well as a service to collect and compost source-separated food waste, paper towel (from bathrooms) and garden waste.
Managing director Melanie Jones emphasises the importance of recycling organic waste, food waste in particular.
“By source-separating organic waste from other waste streams, the contamination of plastic, paper, glass and metals is prevented, increasing recycling percentages to over 90%.”
Meiring says up to 60% of the rubbish that ends up in the dustbin can be recycled. Recycled paper produces 73% less air pollution than if it was made from raw materials and the energy saved from recycling one glass bottle will power a 100-watt light bulb for almost an hour.
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