Written by futureofwaste

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“Tackling  waste in tourism & events”

Although it doesn’t represent a high volume, electronic waste is costly to manage and highly damaging for the environment. This article aims at giving you some insights on the environmental impact. We will also give you some solutions that can be implemented to reduce it when organizing your event or managing your tourism company.

Why?

  • Around 35% of broken electronic objects thrown away are in fact fixable.
  • 2,5 tons of material are required to make a 11 kg television with a carbon footprint equivalent to a return flight Paris-Nice.
  • The manufacture, transport and recycling of a laptop computer generates as much CO2 as its use for 82 years.
  • For half of the metals most used in electronic equipment, the recycling rate is less than 10%.

Learn more:

What?

Identify: What kind of electronic waste are you throwing away? From which departments of your company is the electronic waste coming from: administration (computers, printers, camera, earphones…), kitchen (robots, cashiers…), guest rooms (TV, TV sets, IP phones, remote controllers…)?

Refrigerators are an issue in large hotels when considering e-waste, as most rooms have one. Toxic elements like Freon and other refrigerants are contained in all refrigerators, which has a variety of negative effects on both human health and natural ecosystems. The second leading problem is probably TV sets.

Note that most of the impact for a large number of electronic equipments in hotels is related to manufacturing and not to the use. For example : a 80cm LED TV will consume 724 kWh (94%) during its manufacturing process and 45,2 kWh (6%) during its lifespan use.

According to a study done on 115 French hotels: electronic waste represents around 2% of total waste weight (almost 4000 kg / year) (Source: Betterfly Tourism).

Measure / estimate: How many kilograms of electronic waste are you throwing away each year? Follow up on key indicators: learn more.

#1 Avoid

Before each purchase ask yourself: do we really need it? immediately? is it really useful? where was it made?

Possible if:

You select versatile products that combine several functions and reduce the number of appliances (a machine that makes coffee, hot drinks, tea, water, chocolate).

Saves money

Not always possible

Examples

  • To better understand where stuff comes from, why we buy so much of it and where it all goes in the end, check out: the Story of Stuff

#2 Rent / Lease

Instead of buying: rent or lease good quality equipment.
Even better: your leased equipment is purchased from a supplier who is partnered with a local recycler. This could create a direct loop of technology, use, recycling/reuse again.

Possible if: you can find a local company that rents the equipment. If a simple table has to come from the other side of the country, it makes no sense!

Gain in productivity, save money: if there is any problem with the gear, just call the renting/leasing company, they ‘ll repair/replace it. Keep the same equipment for the longest period of time with degressive monthly payments after the mandatory commitment period.
In the case of events, then you wont’ need to find a storage solution when it’s over: you just return the product!

Not always possible

Examples

Suppliers

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#3 Buy second hand and donate

Donate used television sets, IP phones, etc after use for a second lifespan. Buy from local 2nd hand markets. Buying locally is also something to consider as transportation during assembly can be very extensive for electronic equipents. There are nowadays 2nd hand suppliers offering almost the same guarantee as new products shops.

Possible if:…

Save money

Require anticipation

Suppliers

  • In France, you can buy second hand household appliances from the network Envie.org. Social reintegration workers are repairing the items which are sold at fair prices and guaranteed for one year.

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#4 Expand life span

Buy “quality” equipment to make it last. Taking good care of the equipment (regular maintenance) extends its life span. Follow material instructions to optimize its use.

Possible if:

You have the budget and the time to look for and invest in quality equipment.

Cost money: on short term, but you’ll save money on long term.

Save money: think long term.

Suppliers

  • Check out environmental signage, for example the ones of Darty/FNAC. They provide essential information in order for the consumer to compare the environmental impact of its consumption, and integrate this aspect in his selection criterias when in need of new products.

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#5 Ensure safe disposal

When broken, electronic waste must be disposed separately. The recycling process consists in dismanteling devices and separate materials (plastic, metals…) from dangerous parts, for future uses.

Possible if: You have a recycling system in place in your country

Gain trust & differentiate yourself
Save money: 
Hotels can recycle through LEED certification (US), which gives tax breaks, saving money overall while simultaneously promoting your positive reputation as a green business.

Require anticipation
Require know-how

Suppliers

  • Arpe in Quebec is association tackling electronic waste. They provide collect services to redistributes it to manufacturers and recycling facilities.

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

Main authors of this article:  

Thank you to our authors as well as our expert proofreaders who contributed to fact-checking the content. Like the entire toolbox, this article has been created thanks to the collaborative effort of:

The Future of Waste community