These days, going green is all the rage in the hotel industry. One can hardly move for eco-initiatives and sustainability thinktanks as hotels and suppliers attempt to move towards environmentally friendly solutions, and with all the buzzwords and eco-jargon, it can be tough to tell what’s effective and what’s not. One company hoping to change all that is Astro Hospitality, a New Zealand-based wholesale supplier of in-room appliances to the hotel and motel industries.
Astro recently launched a recycling scheme called The Hotel Weka. Named after the famously curious bird endemic to New Zealand, the service offers hoteliers and moteliers an end-to-end recycling solution for their used plastics. Collected plastic from toiletry tubes and bottles is recycled into flooring componentry structures known as Qpods. These ingenious devices, made from 100% recycled plastic, provide an underfloor support structure for construction projects, replacing polystyrene pods.
Reuben Beatson, managing director of Astro Hospitality, spoke of the importance of traceability when it comes to sustainability efforts. “We’re very conscious of the fact that there’s so much greenwashing around,” he explained. “What we’re doing is taking full control of the whole process, from collection through to processing.” As a supplier of the very same plastic products The Hotel Weka seeks to recycle, Astro’s involvement in the scheme is partly a matter of conscience, said Beatson. “We felt it was our responsibility to help. We understand the importance of providing a great guest experience, but then having the solution to take care of the plastic waste problem after that is what we’re looking to achieve.”
So how does it actually work? The Hotel Weka programme is broken down into four simple steps. “First, a hotel’s housekeeping staff collect the part-used toiletry bottles and tubes and put them in the original cartons the new toiletries were supplied in,” said Beatson. This is all to ensure that products are reused as much as possible. “Then, The Hotel Weka arranges collection of the cartons filled with the part-used bottles or tubes.” From there, the waste plastic is cleaned and ground into a form ready for moulding, before being shaped into reinforcing supports and Qpods. The scheme provides complete traceability at every point of the process, and by transforming the plastic into a permanent product, hoteliers can rest assured that their waste plastic will be prevented from ending up in a landfill.
The Hotel Weka is part of a larger, collective effort on the part of the global hotel industry to rebrand and implement environmentally friendly mechanisms. In July, Intercontinental Hotels Group announced its intention to remove miniature toiletries from its hotels in a bid to reduce ocean plastic waste, and Dubai’s largest experience resort JA recently won an award for its remarkable sustainability efforts. Closer to home, the TIA has for some time expressed its hopes for New Zealand’s tourism industry to become a world-leader in green tourism. Earlier this week the company a partnership with Enviro-Mark Solutions to encourage tourism operators to measure, manage, and reduce their climate and environmental impacts.
So far, Beatson told Hotel Magazine that the response has been positive. “All it takes is an annual subscription to be involved, and we take care of all collection and processing,” he said. “We’ve had a number of hotels join.” By providing a traceable solution, The Hotel Weka allows hotels to communicate to guests exactly where their used plastics will end up. “Our whole mission is to help hotels remove plastic from landfill,” Beatson explained. “We’re helping hotels convey that end-to-end solution story to their guests.”