Tourism Northern Ireland

Tourism NI – Leaner and Greener Waste Management Webinar (7th February 2023) Summary


Tourism NI held their ‘Leaner and Greener `Waste Management’’ webinar on Tuesday 7th February 2023. It was presented by Tina O’Dwyer, The Tourism Space with Aine Martin, Doolin Hotel explaining their experiences also. A recording of the webinar, workshop resources, including a Guide Book and a Workbook to download the relevant spreadsheets, can be accessed at


The webinar used a 10 step approach to managing waste,  exploring the reasons why waste management is important for businesses by identifying how much and where waste is generated in your business, what actions can be taken to reduce waste and save money and how to develop an action plan to reduce waste. 

The costs of waste can be divided into visible costs (4%) and hidden costs (96%) which include energy use, utility use, raw material costs, labour, handling and storage, transportation, maintenance time, time, effort, production capacity, rework and lost profit. It is important to reduce waste as it reduces costs and saves money, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, meets legal requirements and it may boost your business brand and reputation. The goal is to minimise the amount of waste your business sends to landfill through implementing prevention, reduction and recycling strategies.


The Circular Economy is an industry/ manufacturing system which is designed to reuse, repair and recycle as much as possible. It is a term to describe a new hierarchy production and consumption model that ensures continuous growth over time:

  • Prevent – if you cant prevent, then
  • Prepare for Reuse – if you cant prepare for reuse, then
  • Recycle – if you cant recycle, then
  • Recover other value (eg energy) – if you cant recover other value, then
  • Disposal – landfill if no alternative available.

To apply the waste hierarchy:

  • Refuse waste coming into your business 
  • Reduce waste in your own business
  • Reuse and repurpose
  • Recycle


  • Material consumption has trebled since 1970 to about 100 billion tonnes.
  • Extraction of resources to produce goods leads to global habitat loss, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss (90%), water stress.
  • Waste in landfill continues to cause carbon emissions and also generates air, soil, water, noise and odour pollution.
  • NI is to set a target to ensure that 10% of its waste goes to landfill by 2035 through its Waste Management Strategy set to be released in 2023.
  • The Circular Economy Strategy consultation for NI will close in March 2023


  1. Appoint a Green Team or Green Champion.
  • Ability to report accurately and memorably on successes in minimising waste depends on how well you keep track of your key numbers. Either a Green Champion (smaller business) or Green Team (larger business) should take responsibility and make waste management a priority.
  • Only when you measure and monitor can you truly manage waste and save money so set up an efficient measuring and monitoring system.
  • Make a note of your baseline/starting point – before you take any action.

2. Annual Use and Costs (Worksheet 1) – How much waste is generated in your business right now?

  • Start by establishing your annual figures for 2022 – that is your baseline.
  • Use Waste Use and Costs Sheet worksheet 1 to record figures for landfill, recycling and food waste.
  • Find the relevant information on your waste bill. Common categories are:
    • Mixed waste/landfill waste/general refuse/mixed refuse
    • Food waste/brown bill/compost/compostable
    • Mixed dry recyclable/recyclables/recycling/blue bin
    • Glass (green, white and brown)
    • Cardboard
    • Hazardous waste (eg batteries)
  • Understand your bill – it should cover 1 month of collections and for each collection, there should be a description of the waste category and you need to establish the categories that apply to your bill. Check all charges and ‘lift’ the charge for picking up the bin on a given date and the ‘processing’ charge for processing each kg of waste collection.
  • Complete the Total Landfill (kg) and Total Landfill Cost cells in worksheet 1.

Suggested Actions:

  • Study your bill and note the different categories of waste that are collected and the terminology that is used.
  • If you do not understand any item category, contact your service provider to get clarification.
  • If your bill does not show breakdown of weight or cost, request a full breakdown from your provider.

3. Benchmark

  • Benchmarking allows you to track your own performance over time.
  • Benchmarking allows you to compare your performance against others in the industry.
  • Benchmark examples – 5kg per guest/1kg per sq metre/0.25kg per cover.
  • Complete the benchmark measure cell in worksheet 1.

4. Monitor Monthly

  • Complete monthly kg/cost of landfill cells in worksheet 1. This provides a good breakdown, identifies patterns and shows how benchmark changes.

5. Inspect Bins

  • Plan to do this for a week.
  • For that week, check every bin in the business twice per day.
  • Pay close attention to what is in there.
  • List the two items that appear most often or at points in the day
  • After a week, you will have solid information on which items are your top waste challenges. For example, one hotel noticed disposable slippers frequently found in the bin so they moved them from the bed to an upper shelf and advised guests of this – so they were only used when needed.
  • Complete the Bin Audit Table, worksheet 2.

6. Do a Walkaround Waste Audit

  • Conduct a walkaround waste audit and complete the Walkaround Waste Audit, worksheet 3.

7. Monitor waste collection area

  • Note in your diary the days the bins are collected.
  • Each week inspect the bin collection area and the bins themselves.
  • Is there recyclable material in the Landfill Bin? Or vice versa?
  • Are bins full to the top?
  • Have you more than 1 bin full?

8. Food Waste Survey

  • Food waste contributes one sixth of all global emissions.
  • Conduct a food waste survey and note food spoilage patterns – spend a day doing this. There are 4 types:
    • Preparation waste
    • Plate waste
    • Unserved cooked food
    • Unprepared spoiled food
  • Also conduct a bin waste survey – open/closed bins.

9. Analyse and Prioritise

  • At this stage you will have a clear picture of wastage and it is time to analyse the outcomes of your audit.
  • What jumps out as a priority area for attention.
  •  Share outcomes with your team or mentor.
  • Brianstorm solutions – branded goods not necessary, use recyclable bottles instead of plastic etc?
  • Broadly estimate costs and resources required.
  • Prioritise -first take the actions with lowest cost and highest impact.

10. Action Plan

It is only an action plan if it is clear who has to take the action and when that action has to be done by. Complete the Waste Reduction Action Plan, worksheet 4. Everyone on the team can look at this and tick off actions to see the impact they have.

EXPERIENCES FROM HOTEL DOOLIN – Ireland’s First Certified Carbon Neutral Hotel, Aine Martin