Recycling - Making Smarter Choices & Creating Greener Products
The Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) of a product begins with its raw materials, through manufacturing of the product and the packaging, to the use of the amenity, and finally, disposal. While all of these are significant,the key to limiting environmental burden is choosing the right type and weight of packaging.
Gilchrist & Soames, in most every situation, chooses the lowest possible resin weights of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or HDPE (high density polyethylene), the most readily recyclable options available today.
Bioresins, new and highly-publicized materials in packaging, have a basis in plants, many purported to biodegrade after use. The most common bioresin currently is PLA, polylactic acid. To biodegrade, PLA requires composting1 at about 125°F and a 50% moisture level2, conditions met only by in-vessel composting at a Municipal Solid Waste facility or its equivalent. Unfortunately, very few exist, meaning the pursuit of degradables in amenity packaging must be tempered by the realities of today.
With this in mind, we're constantly exploring alternative packaging beyond traditional PET and HDPE. That's why we also use paper bottles, which are up to a 59% reduction in packaging material by weight and a 92% reduction in waste by volume after use compared to rigid plastic bottles.
Our commitment to newer and more environmentally friendly packaging has never been stronger. Through industrial design exploration and materials research, we are on the leading edge in the development of alternative packaging. So as new systems are put in place and improved materials are made available, you can bet that we'll be first in line to offer not just more choices, but better choices.
Recycling Challenges & Best Practices
On one hand, our industry's commitment to recycling has never been greater. On the other, amenity-sized bottles do pose unique challenges.
Sorting small bottles is problematic for the Municipal Recycling Facility (MRF), as the eff ort and expense are roughly the same to remove a 32-ounce bottle as to remove a one-ounce bottle. That's why it's important that each hotel work closely with its local facility to ensure that best practices are followed, making it a worthwhile and productive venture for both hotel and MRF.
From the MRF, bales are transported to the reclaimer, where they're shaken apart in a trommel that has perforations 1.5 to two inches in diameter. Small bottles often fall through the perforations and are disposed with the rocks, closures, dirt and grit that also fall through the holes. It is imperative that the hotelier or MRF work with the reclaimer to ensure the loss is minimal.
- Hotelier purchases amenities in bottles of the same resin type properly labeled with recycling symbol
- Hotelier works with local MRF to establish systems for bottles and closures
- Housekeeping collects used bottles and delivers to a common receptacle
- Bottles depackaged (emptied) and flattened (preferably)
- Bottles placed in large (30 to 50 gallon) clear plastic bags
- Bags transported to the MRF for inclusion in standard bales
- Ideally, the MRF is able to add the drained bottles directly to the baler, avoiding sorting (possible only if steps are followed and bags contain a single resin type)
- MRF transports bales to the reclaimer
1 NatureWorks LLC. "Composting." 28 October 2008http://www.natureworksllc.com/our-values-and-views/end-of-life/composting.aspx
2 Weber, Robert. "Laboratory Composting of Polylactic Acid." Industrial Agricultural Products Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 28 October 2008 http://agproducts.unl.edu/compost.htm