Since 2014, all large hotels in Singapore with more than 200 rooms are required by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to have mandatory reporting of waste data and submission of waste reduction plans. In 2018, 114 hotels are involved in mandatory waste reporting.
Every year, hotels have to report their waste disposed of and recycled, and also explain the planned activities for waste reduction at the hotel as well as an update on the initiatives that have already been implemented.
From 2014 to 2018, the proportion of large hotels that recycle has increased from 91% to 94%. The recycling rate for hotels has increased from 6.0% in 2014 to 7.7% in 2018. Although most hotels are recycling, their recycling rate is still very low. According to NEA, the top performers typically segregated common recyclables such as carton boxes, plastic packaging, and newspapers, and operated food waste digesters.
The good news is that waste generated by large hotels in Singapore has dropped by about 12% from 4.3 to 3.8 kg/room/day. There is still room to improve the waste reduction and recycling efforts for large hotels, especially given that some global hotel groups have committed to reduce about half of their waste by 2025-2030.
For example, Marriott has committed to reduce waste to landfill by 45% and reduce food waste by 50% by 2025. Hilton has committed to reduce waste output in managed operations by 50% and reduce food waste sent to landfill by 50% by 2030.
It is possible for hotels in Singapore to reduce 50% of waste disposed of by 2030. This would require the following:
1. The government to provide the necessary incentives and disincentives to accelerate waste reduction actions.
2. The hotel association encouraging the industry to take bold steps together, and helping members on training and sharing best practices.
3. The hotels taking the lead and changing the status quo, instead of waiting for customers to demand for change.
4. The customers demanding hotels to reduce waste and to accept some inconvenience that might result from the changes.
There is a growing interest from all stakeholders in the hotel value chain to see greater sustainability efforts. Waste reduction can be a low hanging fruit along the journey towards sustainability for the hotel industry. Let’s start by setting a goal for hotels in Singapore to reduce waste disposed by 50% by 2030.