Tuesday, December 2, 1997

Walt Disney World Hilton: Takes A Simple Approach To Steel Recycling

At the Walt Disney World Hilton, Chief Engineer John Steele has structured a recycling program in which simplicity is the primary focus. The program includes a variety of recyclables: steel food cans, aluminum beverage cans, glass and plastic containers, newspaper, office paper, cardboard, soap, grease and other items such as carpeting.

A lot of research went into the program before it was implemented in the summer of 1990. Steele asked all hotel employees what recyclable materials they used in greatest quantities. Collection bins for the appropriate materials were then placed in the closest location possible.

In the kitchen, one-gallon steel cans are routinely recycled. The steps that the hotel follows are the same as those recommended by SRI: (1) the can is rinsed, using no extra water, (2) the lid and bottom of the can are removed, and (3) the can is crushed and placed into the storage bin along with the lids.

Steele determined that 70 percent of guests would participate in a hotel recycling program. Since he does not believe that any of the employees should have to “go through garbage,” a place card in each room asks guests to leave their recyclables on the desk or table in the room. The housekeeping staff collects the materials using a bag that hangs on the cleaning carts.

“Our guests have made very positive comments about our recycling program,” said Nadine DeGenova Kopf, director of public relations. “For example, members of a major company met in-house, and we provide them with a number of bins for their recyclable materials. They were surprised at how comprehensive our recycling program is.”

The savings have been tremendous. The year before the program was established, the hotel paid $30,000 for trash removal; the following year it paid $8,200. Since the recyclables are source separated, employees process them according to end market specifications. In the case of steel cans, they are baled.

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