In-room recycling next step for hotels

I was able to attend the Kaua‘i Economic Development Board’s 2008 Kaua‘i Renewable Energy Conference “Think Globally, Act Locally.” The Hawai‘i Hotel Association’s Kaua‘i chapter, the Po‘ipu Beach Resort Association and the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau all joined together as a sponsor of this important event.

It was great to hear from the experts on the subject of energy sustainability, but very sobering how critical things are for our island. The majority of the room felt there was less than five years to act on this issue. The clock is ticking and the next few years must be used to make a difference for the well-being of our island.

A few years ago I mentioned to some of our general managers on-island that the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau occasionally receives phone calls and e-mails from visitors asking why our resorts don’t recycle. They confirmed that they, too, received such feedback from time to time.

In fact, many of the properties do recycle, it’s just done in the “back of the house” where the visitors don’t see it. I wondered out loud if maybe now it would be acceptable for visitors to recycle in the room, which in turn, might make it easier for housekeeping and make the visitors feel better about recycling.

At the conference I was so pleased to see presenter Doug Sears, general manager of the Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa, reveal new recycling baskets that were being purchased for a trial run of in-room recycling.

The Grand Hyatt is one of many properties on Kaua‘i doing its best to address energy sustainability. Its sustainability efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle include:

• CFL’s reduce energy usage by nearly 800,000 kilowatt hours per year.

• LED’s for hallway and exit lights provide 10,000 hours of light versus 2,000 with traditional bulbs.

• Light timers and sensors installed for public restrooms/stairways.

• Electronic timers and variable speed drives on exhaust fans and pumps reduce electrical needs by 250,000 kilowatt hours.

• To go containers are biodegradable corn plastic.

• New photovoltaic solar system will reduce use of oil by 7,000 barrels.

• Green waste is used for compost.

• Waste cooking oil is collected and processed into bio-diesel fuel.

• Heat-to-energy conversion uses heat produced by the air-conditioning system to heat water for guestrooms, laundry and swimming pools, decreasing environmental pollution and conserving 205,000 kilowatt hours each year.

• Thirteen tons per month of recyclables are diverted from the landfill (4,000 bottles equals 1 ton)

It’s clear that we are all in this together and Kaua‘i’s visitor industry is working hard, where they can, to make a difference toward a sustainable future for Kaua‘i.

• Sue Kanoho is the executive director of the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau. She can be reached at kauai@hvcb.org

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