Hotels around the world see thousands of travelers per year, and that means their furniture is used and worn out at higher rates compared to residential furniture. Now consider that hotels also have hundreds of rooms and dozens of common areas, meaning the volume of furniture housed in a hotel is massive. On top of that, hotel furniture needs to be in great condition, despite all the wear and tear. Ultimately, this means that hotel furniture needs to be replaced frequently, but what happens to the old furniture?
The good news is that a lot of hotel furniture is recycled or reused in some way. There are three options for processing old furniture: Liquidation, Recycling, and/or Donation. Hotels that work hard to reduce waste often utilize a combination of the three.
Branded hotels receive a Property Improvement Plan which outlines how often they need to replace furniture and conduct renovations to keep up with brand-standards. That’s how the parent brand ensures that all of the franchise properties meet the same level of quality. However, this means that renovations are often conducted when the furniture is still in good condition, so the furniture can be resold. Similarly, independent hotels may renovate or refresh FF&E items for strategic purposes, even though the items are still usable. There are a number of websites where used hotel furniture is bought and sold, such as HotelSalesAndSurplus.com, Kijiji, HotelSeriveInc.com, Alibaba, AuctionFactory.com, and AuctionMasters.com. This is an excellent option for hoteliers to make some extra revenue to put toward the new furniture and reduce renovation costs. What makes it even better is that hotels can sell the furniture directly to a liquidator who will then handle the sale of the items. It also allows other hotels and businesses to purchase quality furniture for a significantly reduced price. Some hotels with especially high-quality furniture, like the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, host auctions to sell off their highly sought-after pieces.
There are a number of charities that will help hotels donate furniture, such as Good360 and Habitat for Humanity. Many hotels donate furniture that is not eligible for resale so that nothing has to be thrown out. Some brands donate all of their furniture right off the bat, and others take the profits made from liquidation and donate it to a charity of their choice. For example, the profits made from the Waldorf Astoria were donated to St. Bartholomew's Conservancy. This kind of philanthropy is very popular in the hotel industry. The Mystic Marriott Hotel and Spa in Groton, Connecticut donated over 300 beds, 285 sofas and chairs, and 500 floor and table lamps to local charities after their most recent remodel. Many hotels choose to donate to local shelters, churches, and charities as a way of giving back to the communities they operate within.
Some items that can’t be sold or donated are recycled instead, like old mattresses and carpets. While the hotel industry has not historically been the best for recycling these items, recycling has become more and more popular in recent years. Companies like Second Chance Recycling take old mattresses and strip them down so that the materials can be used in new mattresses, carpets, and a number of other things. This company alone processes over 300 mattresses a day, and even with recycling superheroes like them, over 50,000 mattresses end up in landfills every year according to ByeByeMattress.com. Shaw Industries’ Evergreen Nylon Recycling recycles old carpets after renovation and turns them into brand-new carpets without compromising the quality. Wyndham’s La Quinta Inn & Suites recently recycled 30 tons of carpet through them after renovating five of their locations. Some items, like soap and shampoo, are often recycled and then donated because the recycling process is simple and products can be consolidated.
The remaining category of hotel waste that still has a way to go in terms of proper recycling practices is electronic waste. Hotels house a massive amount of electronics from guest rooms to business centres to restaurants and management offices. In the United States alone, 20 million TVs are thrown out every year, and only 13% of electronic waste is properly disposed of and recycled. Many hotels still lack any kind of system for recycling electronic waste. However, amid all of the other recycling efforts being made by the hospitality industry, some major brands have implemented e-waste recycling programs. Hilton and Marriott International both have electronics recycling programs. Neither are complete yet in recycling all electronics used in their hotels, but we can see that the tide is changing as hotels seek ways to reduce waste. Organisations like the Great Lakes Electronics Corporation support a number of corporations in recycling electronic waste.
The hotel industry is constantly working toward its goal of achieving the highest green standards possible as set out by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and so far they have made massive inroads. As the world moves on from the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainability and environmental consciousness are more important than ever to consumers.
Hotels that place themselves at the forefront of this green transformation will have an advantage in the new post-COVID travel market.