With more than 127, 000 hospitality employing more than 3.2 million people, it should come as no surprise that the UK’s hospitality industry is one of the largest.

Approximately 10 per cent of the country’s workforce is employed within hospitality, the third largest private sector employer, which also provides five per cent of GDP. From hotels to nightclubs, restaurants to pubs, almost every street corner you turn in this four-nation collective houses some aspect of this industry.

With a sector so large, however, comes complications, one of which being waste.

Consider the amount of recyclable goods that pass through the hands of these businesses every day.

Statistics propose that around 26 million tonnes of waste are produced ever year in the UK, 12 million of which are recycled while 14 million are sent to landfill.

If the UK is to achieve its ambitious targets in regard to recycling waste, the hospitality industry as a whole and the businesses within it have a lot to do. A 45 per cent recycling rate is a healthy number but it can be easily increased with simple changes.


Virtually all businesses across the country will have some form of recycling measures currently implemented into their daily routine however for those who don’t or for those questioning why it is so beneficial, we detail the positives.

Recycling can actually be a significant money saver. Consider bars and restaurants who use a large number of glass bottles — these bottles are expensive to have taken away. Having them recycled instantly saves you a large amount of money.

Waste takes up a large amount of unnecessary space on your premises that could be being used in a more productive and efficient manner. Furthermore, by sorting waste and having it stored in the correct manner prior to collection by your waste disposal operator you are significantly reducing your chance of potential injury to your employees.

Finally, investing in effective waste disposal methods as opposed to simply allowing your waste to end up at landfill will enhance your business’ reputation, making you instantly display a sign environmental friendliness. Not only will this allow you to attract a larger customer base but it will similarly provide you with scope to entice a larger pool of talent, considering a large number of professionals want to work for a business with good environmental credentials.

Implementing a waste disposal system

One of the key things to consider when implementing a waste management system into your business, particularly in hospitality due to the sheer size and magnitude of some operations, is the education of staff.

Staff must be fully trained in recycling before you can expect it to be successful as how can they know what they are meant to achieve without being told it in the first place?

This doesn’t have to be a drastic, intensive training course on the benefits of recycling, more so a detailed plan of how recycling should be carried out and what you are expecting to see in terms of results. A leaderboard which pits different sides of the business against one another can be a fun way to engage all of the staff, for example making the bar and the restaurant compete against each other. Remember to update them as well!

You need to think about what you are going to be able to recycle. This will vary from business to business depending on the various materials that they use day-to-day however, most hospitality businesses can expect to be able to recycle the following:

  • Cardboard
  • Plastic bottles
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Food and drink cans

One you know what you can recycle within your business you need to think about how you are going to do it. The most simplistic way of doing so involves employing a waste management team, an outside contractor who will detail a step-by-step plan on how your business can successfully dispose of its waste in an environmentally friendly manner.

Along with discussing when and how your waste will be collected, your management team may also propose a variety of machinery that you may want to invest in, in order to make the process more efficient, more cost effective, and more space saving. One of the potential pieces of equipment includes a carboard baler, which crushes boxes into manageable bales, which are easily stored and transported.

The hospitality industry is rife with opportunity when it comes to managing waste, so much so pubs could reduce their waste by 30 per cent, hotels by 16 per cent, and nightclubs by 98 per cent.