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“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

Have you 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 staff feels concerned and involved from the very first steps. Find below a few tips to help you completing this key starting phase.


  • It’s crucial to get a convinced top hierarchy to get the support and means that will be required along the way.
  • It’s key to get the staff to truely engage in your project and this has to be done by choice rather than imposed to be able to successfully implement change within the organization.

1. Involve the top hierarchy

In order to engage the top hierarchy of your organisation, either the board, director or General Managers, you will need to link your waste project with the existing vision and objectives of your organisation.

Present your top 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.

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 ?


Write down the answers of those 4 main questions by constructing on the elements that you developed previously :

  • What is the core purpose of your organisation?
  • What are its shared values ?
  • How can better waste management contribute to this vision and values?
  • How can you engage others to improve waste management?

1h meeting with your top hierarchy

Restaurants and hotels team can be super busy, prepare well your interview to not take too much of their time. One hour should be enough to get the information needed if you have planned it well.

Try the following agenda:

  • Introduce yourselves
  • Explain to them the goal of the program
  • Explain the agenda of the meeting
  • Start with the interview about the values to break the ice
  • Keep 30 minutes for the waste diagnosis (optional)
  • Define a date for a drink were you will gather the local ecosystem within the organization and give visibility to the project. (optional)
  • Explain that you will send a draft with what you understood about the values and waste, so that they can make modifications and that it will not be shared publicly unless they validate it.

We encourage you not to try to have all the details and data during this hour. You should rather:

  • take notes and write down contacts of key people that you could reach to get missing data, plan further interviews, calls or mail with them.
  • ask your interviewee to send later other documents or thoughts he might not have right now.


Events: Read this article to explore the reasons why the organization makesense decided to organize a festival as Zero Waste as possible.

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.

Accor Hotels vision on food & sustainability:

2. Involve your staff

For the staff to truely 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…

Activate english subtitles on the video by clicking on the icon.

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 key 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.

Communicate and raise-awareness

Share the new waste strategy within your organisation before you start actions. Gather your employees to inform 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 quick opinion 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, so you will be able adapt your action plan later on (step 6).

If your interlocutors have little time, take advantage of this first awareness meeting to already give instructions about the initial waste audit: see step 2.

During this first awareness meeting you’ll be able to identidy who you could rely on for actions and recruit your volunteer green team members 😀

Create a green team

Create a “green team” composed of employees interested in sustainability issues. This group will gather volunteer employees from all functions and all levels. The objective of this group 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.

Example of Scandic Hotels

In 1995, at Scandic Hotels, 15 in-house trainers (themselves previously trained by the Scandinavian 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 an approach that often requires changes in organizational systems and daily practices. Once their awareness raised and empowered, more than 2000 initiatives emerged spontaneously from the employees in the following year.

Scandic leaders still stress the importance of pedagogy in this approach today: “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: see the french book “L’entreprise verte” LAVILLE E. Paris, Pearson Education France, 2009.

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

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