Blog Post

In an article that appears in Green Lodging News, Dan Reuben discusses innovations in the hotel industry since he co-founded Boston Green Tourism in 2005. Hotels have the potential to use large amounts of energy and water, and produce a large quantity of waste. In the article, Reuben writes that the hotel industry has improved their waste management systems overall, with businesses exploring opportunities to divert items such as food material, construction and demolition materials, furniture, and mercury containing items.

Food Waste

Many hotels are subject to the commercial organics waste ban, established by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) In October, 2014. Under this ban, businesses or institutions that generate one ton or more of food waste per week for disposal must divert that material from disposal to other uses. The Green Lodging News article shares various methods that hotel chefs and others use to reduce and divert food waste, including source reduction, food donation, and diversion to animal feed, composting, or anaerobic digestion. RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) provides many resources for designing customized reduction and diversion systems at hotels, including guidance on the source reduction of food waste, food donation, and source separation of food scraps.

Construction & Demolition Materials

Building renovations and construction projects are a necessity for hotels to remain relevant in the industry. The Green Lodging News article notes that many hotels already strive to ensure that perfectly good construction and demolition materials are reused or recycled. Hotels in Massachusetts can partner with a number of deconstruction contractors that specialize in separating and storing materials for donation. These materials can often be donated to local nonprofit reuse stores such as Boston Building Resources, EcoBuilding Bargains, or Habitat for Humanity ReStores. See the RecyclingWorks best management practices for construction and demolition materials for a more comprehensive list of deconstruction service providers in the state.


Furniture is currently one of the least recycled goods in the U.S., with 10 million tons of furniture sent to landfills every year, mostly in the form of wood and steel. Many hotels are making a positive impact by donating used furniture to businesses and individuals, which enriches those communities that receive the furniture. There is often also an added benefit in terms of cost savings, when comparing furniture donation to the cost of disposal. RecyclingWorks is in the final stages of completing a best management practices document that will provide guidance to businesses and institutions looking for an alternative reuse outlet for surplus furniture.

Mercury-Containing Items

Some hotels may still have mercury containing items, like old thermostats and fluorescent bulbs. Mercury is a highly toxic metal and all mercury-containing devices should be handled properly. Massachusetts’ Mercury Management Act prohibits the disposal of mercury in the trash or wastewater. The Thermostat Recycling Corporation offers free mercury-containing thermostat recycling, reporting, and compliance assistance. To find a hauler or processor for mercury containing items in your area, search the RecyclingWorks database.

RecyclingWorks helps businesses and institutions maximize recycling, reuse, and food waste diversion opportunities. RecyclingWorks provides no-cost technical assistance to help businesses and institutions implement programs that prevent, recover, and divert waste from disposal. Learn how RecyclingWorks helped the Lenox Hotel as well as the Boston Westin by watching or reading the case studies. To speak to a recycling and food waste diversion expert, c all our hotline at 888-254-5525 or email us at