Written by daniel

This article is part of our toolbox
“Tackling  waste in tourism & events”

Hygiene is key in the tourism and even industries, in particular in kitchens, waste storage areas, guest rooms and hotel grounds for obvious health and regulatory reasons, but also for commercial reasons, with the attractiveness and comfort of a place interlinked with its cleanliness. To deliver high standards of hygiene, phytosanitary and sanitary products based on chemicals are widely used, but they can have detrimental effects on human health and the environment.


  • Around 1 500 new chemicals are marketed every year, adding to the 70 000 or more already in existence. While some are known to cause health issues such as fertility problems, birth defects, or respiratory disorders, more research is needed to improve knowledge about the long-term effects of others.
  • There has been debates and concerns regarding the impact of cleaning products, you can learn more in the media (CNN, HuffingtonPost), research institutes or from NGOs, such as the NGO Women’s Voices. In the restaurant and hotel industries, risks are heightened by the “cocktail effect” or the repeated exposure to multiple types of chemicals in different products, and which could pose threat to your organisation’s customers and employees.
  • 84% of european citizen agree that they worry about the impact on their health of chemicals present in everyday products and 90% about the impact on the environment according to 2017 European Commission study.

Many chemicals will end up in the environment either because they are directly used in gardens, or thrown into wastewater effluents. Once released in the environment, these chemicals may take a considerable time to break down and become inactive. Some of these chemicals are known to “bio-accumulate” in plants and animals and pose adverse long-term effects (see the reasearch from eawag on the topic). Thus it is crutial to either reduce their use, or send them to proper waste management structures.

Learn more:

Rapports et vidéo d’Eco DDS
Vidéos: Le Monde
Infographies “Qu’est-ce qu’on fait?” :les produits ménagers
 les pesticides 


Identify your main sources of chemical waste: cleaning kitchen and guest rooms, maintaining the garden and swimming pool… We can distinguish three types of chemical products:

  • Phytosanitary products to get rid of unwanted pests, bugs and weeds (e.g. pesticides, insecticides, herbicides)
  • Cleaning products (e.g. laundry and dishwashing detergents, surface and floor cleaners, disinfectants, degreasers and oven cleaners, fragrances)
  • Paints and varnish


In a stricter approach, chemical product wastes can take two forms: unused phytosanitary products (because they are expired or have been forbidden) and empty product packaging.

To be noted: Varnish and paints can be valorised, under strict conditions, but phytosanitary products cannot be recycled or regenerated ; and it is dangerous (and often forbidden) to mix them (and their packaging) with domestic waste or to throw them away. They have to be handled by specialists, to be stored in specific containers, and often incinerated.

Choose at one key indicator in order to measure your current amount of chemical waste and the progress you’ll make. For example: how many liters of chemical products do you use in average each year?

Read our article Measure and estimate your waste reduction progress.

#1 Reasonable use of products

Reduce consumption & hazardous substances by
– Opting for suppliers offering phytosanitary, cleaning and personal care products without hazardous substances and/or based on natural ingredients.
– Reducing the quantity of substances used by eliminating non-essential products and by usinge products at the correct frequency and concentrations.

Possible if:
– You can find less hazardous product suppliers in your country,
– You go beyond marketing claims and verify the ingredient lists of products (check out Ecolabel Index). to understand what ecolabel claims really mean).

Save money: by training your employees on minimizing the volume of products used,

Gain trust and differentiate yourself: your employees and customers will thank you.

Cost money: Depending on your country-location, eco-friendly products might be more expensive. In Europe the difference is often negligible.
Not always possible: if you can’t find a provider


  • Ecover, Greener Cleaner, Grumme Gron Sapa, Ecostore, Planet Natural, the list is long !
  • Method was founded by Adam Lowry & Eric Ryan, two entrepreneurs with the goal to create cleaning products with no toxic ingredients “that you wouldn’t have to hide under the sink”. This motivation created both an entire line of products for home cleaning, and one of the fastest growing companies in America.

See our collaborative database: click here
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  • Make cleaning daily towels in hotels an exception (instead of the the normality!):

#2 Prefer refillable packaging

Buy in bulk or in concentrated form, use refillable containers to reduce the volume of packaging waste you are generating. Prefer products that are packaged in recyclable containers (see our single-use package article).

For safety purpose, do not reuse containers for different products
Adapt service agent’s work practice, and raise their awareness and knowledge on the topic

Save money: refill packs provide in average 25% savings on buying suppliers (and even up to 65%!) and might reduce also your waste disposal costs.
Differentiate yourself and gain trust by showing that you care.

Requires anticipation,
and not always possible


  • Clean the World, Aquamenities, Ecover, CleanPath, the list is long !
  • Through its online platform and fast delivery service, Splosh has permitted customer to tackle the waste created by cleaning products packaging. Customer buy their containers once and then receive refill postal service, with free return for the used refill pouches.

See our collaborative database: click here
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Artupox has been a pioneer actor in the promotion of sustainable cleaning practices, including reusable containers. Read the vision of their founder

#3 Make your own natural

– Make organic waste your best ally to give up chemical fertilizer and use compost instead.
– Make your own natural pesticides using natural recipes (nettle manure…).

Possible if: you have some free space or if there is an organization collecting organic waste in your city. Don’t install the composter less than ten meters away from habitation buildings, your neighbours and customers might complain about smells or flies.

Save money free natural fertilizer! You could even distribute to your more loyal customers some of this organic gold 😉
No more stinky trash: what makes your bins smell bad is mostly the organic waste which is rotting inside it. Once you sort out organic waste and make compost out of it, you’re getting rid of the main smelly factor!

Requires know how  in the beginning you will need to take some time to set up the compost and to learn how to balance it well (what to put and not to put). But once the new habit is implemented, it does’nt really take much more time to just put your organic waste in the compost rather than in the bin.


Check with local farmers, or waste organic operator !

In France, local waste entrepreneurs offer alternatives to city waste collecting programs : they collect and compost organic waste in the cities so that it can be directly sold and reused for urban farming, minimizing waste and compost transportation.

See our collaborative database: click here
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  • Learn about how to compost your oganic waste reading this article.
  • Nettle manure is a rich natural fertilizer but be prepared: it’s as easy to make as it smells bad !
  • Watch this video (in spanish with english/french subtitles) to discover Casa Divina Lodge‘s recipe to make natural mosquitoes repellent:

#4 Reuse & regenerate paint and varnish waste

Some varnish can be sent back to their supplier – check with the brand. Additionally, specialised companies are now able to recycle unused, excessed and mistinted paints, to reprocess the paint into many renewable product.


Possible if: you raise your staff awareness about the issue and set up a clear process. When available, follow the manufacturer’s and/or supplier’s instructions, even when disposing of empty containers.

In term of CO² emissions, recycled paint save 72% of environmental impact compared to virgin paint, saving water, oil and energy

Requires anticipation and a little bit of time


In the Netherlands, 10 millions kg of paint are sent as waste each year. Among which, 3.5 millions are recycled, the size of an Olympic pool. Those new technics have enable the creation of numerous recycled brand paint, with similar quality and often cheaper price. 


  • Your paint and varnish brands. In France, ADEME has developed a Label called “Marque retour”, for varnish companies which engage to take back their varnish and their waste while respecting strict rule to protect the environment. 
  • Local associations that might be interested in reuse such as Community Repaint in the UK
  • Local disposal sites and waste professionals for regeneration purposes, such as Product Care Association , Repaint (VVVF + SUEZ), PaintCare , Newlife Paint … the list is long !

Check our collaborative international database for local solutions to your waste management issues: click here
Suggest new ones: click here

#5 Ensure safe disposal

DON’T throw your chemical waste in the sink (kitchen, toilets), bin or in the nature. Instead bring them to a chemical waste collection place or waste professionals, that’s the only way to insure safe disposal and avoid contamination which is very bad for our health and the environement.

Possible if: you raise your staff awareness about the issue and set up a clear process. When available, follow the manufacturer’s and/or supplier’s instructions, even when disposing of empty containers.

Gain trust by showing that you care.

Requires anticipation and a little bit of time: go once a year to your local chemical waste collection point to bring all of them.


  • Check with the manufacturer or supplier,  authorised waste-disposal contractors, authorised disposal sites or with your local recycling center. 
  • Green Hotelier mentions that the choice of disposal will depend on the quantity of waste, chemical and biological degradability, toxic properties, concentration, physical form and disposal options.
  • In France, visit Eco DDS website to know more about chemical waste and find where to leave there for safe disposal. Eco DDS is a non profit initiative.

Feel inspired?

Check our collaborative international database for local solutions to your waste management issues: click here
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“Tackling  waste in tourism & events”

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