The holiday season can be the busiest time of year for hospitality businesses in the UK. This can mean an increase in the amount of waste generated in hotels, pubs, and restaurants. European tourists have been documented to generate in the region of one kilogram of waste per person per day. This is a lot of waste to dispose of. Together with environmental considerations, businesses are tasked with innovating around how to divert waste from landfill. Use this overview to get some top tips on festive season waste management.

Food Waste

Food waste is a central consideration for the hospitality industry. Has your hotel or restaurant traditionally put on a buffet spread to celebrate on Christmas Day? Buffets can result in extreme, unnecessary food waste.

Ingredient top tip

Source local. Design your menu around locally-sourced ingredients and make freshness and the support of local business a selling point in your restaurant. With the environmental impact of the meat industry a headline-grabber of late, offer vegetarian options on your menu to cater for dietary requirements – but also to address the environmental ethos of anyone who dines with you. If you run a self-catering facility, offer advice to your guests on where to shop or eat for locally-sourced produce.

Menu top tip

Dispense with the buffet – and tell your diners why. A combination of a ‘freshly-made to order’ approach, together with the environmentally-mindful outlook is sure to be popular amongst your guests. Get your customers involved in your food waste management plan as much as possible. Keep them informed and tell them how it is making a difference.

Food waste top tip

Concentrate on reducing over-portioning and ensuring effective food ordering, storage, and management. The Festive Season highlights issues of hunger and homelessness and your hotel, pub, or restaurant could conduct meaningful food drives with leftover food. This is considered a waste prevention method within the industry.

Biowaste top tip

Try to control where your food waste ends up. Food waste can be a very useful resource, from composting to use as a fuel source for energy. Take the time to find out the fate of your food waste.



  • 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year.
  • At this rate, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans.

Top tips

  • Make recycling easy for anyone visiting your hotel, restaurant, or pub. Ensure bins are clearly labelled and situated in convenient locations around the property. If you remove impediments to recycling, more often than not, your guests will come to the party.
  • Pinpoint plastic. Plastic has a pretty notable target on its back within the restaurant and hotel context. If you serve drinks with plastic straws – or serve water in plastic bottles – it is worth a long-term re-think about this practice.
  • Christmas decorations don’t need an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ approach. Re-use decorations wherever possible and plan to donate or recycle unwanted decorations.

Hotel recycling top tip

Bathroom miniatures are fast coming into focus in the public eye for their negative effect on the environment. Strategise around a change in this practice within your hotel to improve your environmental profile, keep up with the times, and improve your competitiveness within the industry.

Restaurant and catering recycling top tip

As with bathroom miniatures, individually packaged jams and condiments can be dealt with in a similar vein – reducing environmental impact and boosting your environmental efforts.


Dreaming of a white Christmas can up the energy usage. Colder temperatures mean there is an additional burden on energy supplies during the festive season.

Energy saving top tip

Come up with energy-saving tips and enforce these over the winter months to reduce your energy consumption. In the hotel business, dispense with leaving televisions on unnecessarily, encourage guests to turn off lights and appliances when they go out, and consider investing in motion-sensitive lighting to keep corridors and quiet areas lit only as required.

Use our handy calculator to find out how much you could save on your hotel’s energy bills.

Energy strategy top tip

Energy management relies on effective energy monitoring. Metering and invoicing are one element of this, but you can also implement smart software and technology to strategise for savings.


A precious resource all year round, treat the increased foot traffic during the holiday season as a catalyst for long-term change. With an increasing number of hotels and hospitality businesses honing in on sustainable water practices, this will stand you in good stead for the future.

Bathroom top tip: Re-use towels, make daily laundry an ‘on-request’ service, and tell your guests why.

Water top tip: Water is recyclable. Greywater harvesting is an interesting long-term option for hotels, pubs, and restaurants intent on being as sustainable as possible.

Waste Initiatives

Supplier top tip

Work with your suppliers to come up with ways to work together to reduce waste – especially around packaging. Some clever, low-impact innovation can have far-reaching positive effects  – especially at peak times like during the holidays.

Community top tip

Engage your community and even your customers in getting involved in a festive season community clean-up. Engaging your customers and guests in sustainable practices is gaining momentum and can be a point of real strategic advantage. Your hard line on waste could have very positive benefits for your area – and could be good publicity for you too.

Customer top tip

Find out what’s important to your guests and customers by including a waste element to customer feedback forms. You never know the innovative thinking this could stir within your hospitality business.

Internal top tip

More and more businesses within the hospitality industry are pledging to reduce, re-use, and recycle their waste for the good of the environment.

Implementing the waste hierarchy within your business over the festive season should be exemplary of your overall waste approach.

Waste prevention should always be the main aim. Evaluate your waste and strategise around prevention, looking at your processes, your products and services, and eco-solutions and alternatives wherever possible.

Re-use items wherever possible. From optimal use of cooking oil to the ongoing maintenance of equipment, interrogate every area of your business to identify where disposal can be avoided or prolonged and where items can be re-used. This includes the lifespan of your equipment. Ongoing maintenance can keep your equipment operating efficiently and for longer. Similarly, items like old linen and towels, bathroom products, and furniture can find new life with the needy.

When it comes to packaging, the hospitality industry has seen an increase in ‘made for re-use’ packaging used by suppliers. As a result, the cardboard box has come under scrutiny, with suppliers looking to maximise the use of single packaging items. Within the hotel industry – and as bathroom miniatures have gone out of favour as above – how these products are packaged has changed. Often, this is replaced with dispensers – a far less wasteful approach.

Reducing waste can also be done in unexpected ways. For example, Marriott International stopped delivering newspapers to individual rooms in 2009, reducing the need for millions of newspapers per year. On a smaller scale, double-sided printing and adjusted office behaviour can reduce paper consumption enormously year on year.

The benefits from a holistic business waste strategy can be immense. These benefits are environmental, but they also have a knock-on effect, reducing the running costs of your business through resources and potentially reducing the costs of your business services too. These savings have a positive effect on your bottom line and could translate into savings for your customers too – giving you an invaluable competitive edge. Contact the waste management specialists at Smarter Business to find out how to optimise your business waste services for savings and sustainability.