Written by futureofwaste

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“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

You have decided to work on tackling the waste issue in your tourism/event organization? Welcome on board ! To start with your waste reduction and management strategy, you’ll need to dedicate some time to define how this project match and complement your organization’s overall vision and strategy. You’ll also need to make sure the people working in that organisation feel concerned and involved from the very first steps. Find below a few tips to help you completing this key starting phase.


  • The top management of your organisation set the organisation’s strategy, including the planned goals, human and financial resources… Their support will allow you to go further and faster.
  • Your organisation’s staff, colleagues, are the one implementing the waste policies. For them to truly engage in your project, it has to be done by choice and belief rather than top-down imposed

1. Interlink the visions and objectives

In order to engage your organisation’s staff, especially the top executives – you will need to link your waste project with the existing vision and objectives of the organisation

Ask yourself

  • To what extent does better waste management match the mission of the structure you are working in? Screen its values and mission statement in the official documents and point out which parts could be a basis for this positive change.
  • Did you receive any feedback from your customers that indicated that they would have liked you to provide more eco-friendly services ?
  • Are there some legal or business insights and forecasts that might urge you to transform your activity to comply with market demand or legal framework?
  • Could you improve your organisation’s performance, including financial savings, by changing your waste management practices?
  • In your local surroundings, are there health, aesthetic or social issues that you could contribute to through better waste management?
  • What is already done by your organisation, and what were the initial motives ?

Summarize the key findings of those questionnings to be able to present them within your organisation


2. Involve the top hierarchy

Organise a first meeting with your top hierarchy to present to them your idea of project, but keep in mind that manager are often time-constricted, especially in restaurants and hotels, which work under pressure. Prepare well your interview to be efficient:

Keep in mind the objectives of the meeting

  • Is it to sensibilize, to gather funding, to convince to change a practice… ? Adapt your content based on those first priorities.
  • Remember everything doesn’t have to be done at once, and that it can be an introduction for future one-on-one or project committees’ meetings. 

Set the scene

  • Present to your hierarchy your project by highlighting its impacts (environmental, hygiene..), the costs (financial, time…), but also the opportunities (image with customers,…).
  • Remind them what are the legal requirements in your country, and what are the existing best practices within your field of activity.

Prepare the next steps

  • Write down contacts of key people that you could reach to get missing data, plan further interviews, calls or mail with them.
  • Offer to send a draft of a strategy or action plan
  • Set a calendar of actions, to ensure the feasibility of the project in line with the organisation’s existing planning


Hotels: Zazie Hotel in Paris, aims at being an enterprise with a social utility. The hotel adopted a zero waste policy as an opportunity, by backsourcing some of its activities.

3. Involve your staff

For the staff to truly engage in your project, it has to be done by choice rather than imposed on them. Find the correct leverage that will motivate them to participate : Trust into the management, personal beliefs, peer-pressure, rewards systems…

Why is this such a key step?

Enacting a change of vision, and thereafter practices, will have limited effects if the one implementing it are not aware of the motives behind, or even if they lack the tools or times. The main risk is to jeopardize the project, with employees refusing changes and maintaining their old habits.

Depending on the structures, the difficulties of the task will vary. While there are no doubts that many of your employees will be eager to contribute in improving their environmental impact through their work, you might find resistance in others. Some might have no interests at all in waste. Some have been doing certain things the same way for years (keeping in mind that it takes in-between 28 and 66 days to take on a new habit). Some structures have very high turnover rate, which means continuously educating on the new workers. And so on.

It is crucial not to undermine nor underestimate those difficulties. To resolve them, it will be necessary to identify and find the leverages that will help them get on board: ensure practicality of the solutions, time management, environmental motivations… One of the keys is often to involve them early in the project, to ensure their preoccupations are taken into account, and to give them a sense of responsibility in the progress of the project.

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Communicate and raise-awareness

Share the new waste strategy within your organisation before you start actions. Gather your employees to inform them on the why, when and how. Every employee should be aware of and understand the vision and objectives or your organisation regarding sustainable waste management.

Ensure that they understand the reason behind the changes, in what way they can contribute, and what will be the impact of their own actions. Cost reduction figures or new partnerships created help materialise the policy’s impact, and most likely, can develop a sense of pride to take part of it.

Gather some opinions of your internal stakeholders whom are in direct contact with the waste management, from waste production, logistics to client relations: waiter, cook, cleaner, guardian, gardener, lobby manager, communication team…  Understand better their priorities and constraints, you will be able to adapt your action plan later on (step 6).

Create a green team

Identify employees interested in sustainability issues, whom you could rely on for actions later on, and recruit volunteers for a “green team”. This group can gather volunteer employees from all functions and all levels. The objective is to share ideas, best practices, feedbacks, inspirations and support other employees in this wasteless journey. This group could meet regularly and have its own communication channel. They could also mentor newcomers to the company. You’ll then be able to lead the waste audit (step 2) and design a collective action plan (step 6) with them.

The example of Scandic Hotels

In 1995, at Scandic Hotels, 15 in-house trainers (themselves previously trained by the NGO The Natural Step) educated more than 5000 employees (out of a total of 6500) in five languages in two years. A year after the initiative was launched, more than 65% of employees were personally involved in the company’s actions. Driven by this momentum, Scandic has even extended its training programmes to its suppliers, in order to quickly overcome initial reluctance to change in organizational systems and daily practices. After raising awareness and capacity, more than 2000 initiatives emerged spontaneously from the employees in the following year.

Today, Scandic leaders still stress the importance of pedagogy in this approach : “Sustainable development is a slow process that must begin with the acquisition and sharing of knowledge; then we can move on to defining priorities and setting teams in motion through a few simple activities. Very often, this approach also includes sharing best internal practices. For example, the group’s intranet can provide teams around the world with a description of the main environmental issues, a list of the best examples of initiatives implemented in the group to address these issues (with a descriptive sheet per initiative) and finally a reference on what each individual can do in their daily lives.

Learn more by reading this portrait of Jan Peter Bergkvist

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“Tackling  waste in tourism & events”

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