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Miami Mandarin Oriental's Waste, Waste and Plastic

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     How many times have you traveled to another city? Or, how many places has someone you know frequented a new location? Think about the frequency you, a friend or a family member visited a resort, stayed in a hotel in the heart of a well-known city or maybe even left your guest room to walk a mere ten feet to a beautiful white sand beach. For some, the amount may seem innumerable. Now, think of the tourism industry’s six-hundred million tourists traveling around the globe each year. How much water, waste and plastic can be attributed to the use from a single tourist?

     After researching into an array of hotels across the globe, it is clear that certain hotels uphold higher environmental practices as specific, goal-driven environmental plans and initiatives are listed. It was concluded that the majority of hotels did not list efforts specific to a location, but environmental initiatives can be seen in greater detail from group-wide annual reports, as seen by the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group. I researched the Mandarin-Oriental luxury hotel in Miami. The five-star hotel, located on a private island in Brickell Key, has 295 guest rooms, 31 suites, a spa, fitness center, private beach, an infinity edge pool and multiple restaurants and bars. The Mandarin-Oriental is reported as “one of the area’s most environmentally friendly hotels,” by the press agency, Greater Miami and Beaches, but research into the hotel’s website did not list any sustainable practices specific to the Miami location. Therefore, I ultimately resorted to the company-wide annual report and policies.

     The luxury hotel company discusses corporate responsibility as their guiding principle and summarizes their efforts as, “Our environmental and community efforts are designed to make a positive difference in the world, in order to ensure a future that offers the same opportunity for fulfillment that we enjoy today” (Mandarin-Oriental, 2016). Their main goal is to provide excellent luxury service, while acting in a sustainable way and in agreement with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Mandarin-Oriental, 2016). The group’s sustainability report is a great opportunity for guests to understand how the group commits themselves to operations, as it discusses sustainability strategies.

     In regards to the group’s efforts for water conservation and waste management, the group has set reduction goals for 2020. The company hopes to achieve a 20% water reduction and a 20% reduction of waste sent to landfills per guest room by 2020 (Mandarin-Oriental, 2016). The (2016) sustainability report shows a water intensity reduction of 13.9%, in comparison to 2007 levels. The (2016) report also shows improvements in waste management as they diverted 34.1% of waste from landfills, whereas in 2012 they only diverted 17.3%. Overall, looking at the group’s environmental performance summary, they have seen improvements in 2016 in comparison to 2007, but their absolute water consumption and total waste displays increasing numbers over the past two years.

     In order to meet 2020 water conservation goals, the company utilizes group-wide assessments to explore current and future water risk concerns. The group-wide assessments are a vital step as it targets current and future risks and provides them with the opportunity to develop plans and measures. In order to achieve their 2020 goal, the group is working on the implementation of motion sensors and low flow fixtures, process improvements, water efficient technologies and behavioral change initiatives (Mandarin-Oriental, 2016). In addition to this, the company is beginning to develop practices to increase recycling and the reuse of water.

     Mandarin-Oriental summarizes their practice for waste management as, “We divert waste from the landfill through materials reduction, reuse, recycling, donation, composting and conversion to bioenergy and farm feed” (Mandarin-Oriental, 2016). The group has over thirty waste streams at their hotels to separate materials such as, aluminum, metal, soap bars, batteries and more (Mandarin-Oriental, 2016). The waste streams allow for the avoidance of landfills as other disposal methods are utilized with local consideration. To exemplify, the waste streams aided in the diversion from landfills and ultimately the donation of 10,000 pounds of used soap and other basic amenities for those in need (Mandarin-Oriental, 2016). The mentioned methods and efforts are assisted with audits and education of colleagues for improvement purposes. The group’s main target areas for waste reduction are food and plastic. To reduce food waste, recycling programs are being developed, but two locations did create cooking oil recycling programs. In regards to plastic, the group unfortunately continues to provide guests with plastic water bottles throughout the hotels. Initial developments are beginning as only one location introduced reusable water bottles. Furthermore, certain locations have partnered with groups to create new recycling options. For example, the Singapore location has partnered with a group to recycle lamps and the Las Vegas location works with a vendor to recycle electronics and metals. Many locations reuse linens on-site and donate them to local shelters. Overall, Mandarin-Oriental has strategic plans to create innovative programs that educate and assist in their water and waste reduction goals, but can strengthen their practices on a consistent, group-wide scale.

     After reading about the hotel group’s current performance, initiatives and future plans, there is the opportunity for greater improvement on water conservation, waste reduction and the elimination of plastics. This is proven as their water consumption and waste production figures have increased over the past couple years. In the process of improving upon this, the luxury hotel group exerts positive strides as they have measured their water usage and waste production and set tangible targets. The assessments have allowed Mandarin-Oriental to determine which locations are of greatest concern to ultimately develop plans. In accordance with water and waste audits, they engage in educating employees to cultivate a culture of sustainability.

    Some water management techniques the group can employ to is the installation of low flow and dual flush toilets. Currently, the group only has low flow toilets in two locations. Applying these to all locations would make a significant impact for reductions. Also, a trend seen in California that the hotel group could employ is waterless urinals. In addition, the hotel should install shower heads that regulate flow. Another area that contributes to high water usage for hotels is laundry rooms. According to the EPA, laundry operations account for 16% of the property’s total water usage. Applying ozone laundry could help reduce water usage and operation costs. This technique can reduce water consumption by 20%, as it eliminates the need for hot water and reduces wash and dry times (Tuppen, 1). Moreover, the Miami location has an infinity edge pool, which can account for a 10% increase in fresh water consumption (Tuppen, 16). The installation of a backwash system could help the hotel recapture water and use for irrigation. In regards to the hotel’s grounds, many sustainable irrigation techniques can be utilized. Since Miami receives above the US average for annual rainfall, it would be highly beneficial to develop rainwater harvesting techniques. The hotel could install underground storage tanks to divert water and use for irrigation (Tuppen). Secondly, grey water can make a significant impact on reductions as this recycled water can be used for toilets, laundry and irrigation. To substantiate, a Premier Inn in Abu Dhabi saves an average of 735,000 litres per month after installing a greywater recycling system (O’Neill, 9).

     The hotel can employ many different techniques to assist in plastic and waste reduction. Composting can provide a dual benefit as it can be used for soil purposes and reduces disposal costs (“Waste Management” 26). Food waste from the hotel can be turned into energy through processes, such as anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion can be used with a composting unit, which composts food waste and ultimately creates a fertilizer for the hotel (“Waste Management” 29). Additionally, as two Mandarin-Oriental locations recycle cooking oil, the Miami location can adopt this technique as well. In regards to plastic, the hotel needs to stop providing plastic bottles in guestrooms and other areas of the hotel. Reusable bottles are a great alternative and can act as a souvenir for guests. Toiletry amenities can be bought in bulk to reduce the amount of plastic and waste. For example, Green Hotelier reports on the Scandic hotel chain and its waste reduction: “By replacing traditional amenities with bulk items, Scandic has reduced its waste volume by 40% and packaging waste by 11 tonnes annually” (“Waste Management”). The change to bulk items can greatly assist in waste management goals and offer savings. Another simple technique for the hotel is to provide labeled containers to assist in recycling and sorting. This is an easy action that can create awareness for guests. The Miami location can also use LED light bulbs to reduce waste and energy consumption. In regards to e-waste, the hotel should create a partnership with a supplier to have old electronics redeveloped in order to avoid landfills. Lastly, the hotel should avoid using paper products as they can provide information for guests by email or even creating an application for smartphones.

     As one of the world’s largest industries, with a staggering amount of people venturing to new places yearly, it is undeniable that this behemoth of an industry strains the Earth’s resources as travelers unfortunately leave their trace far after the conclusion of their stay. Therefore, it is vital that hotels adopt water, waste and plastic management techniques. As this industry is a facet of modern life, a growing sector for economies and the livelihood of individuals, the adoption of the above-mentioned techniques is of utmost necessity for the longevity of this industry and the livelihood of the Earth’s water sources, ecosystems and landscapes.


Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. (2016). 2016 Annual Report. Retrieved from



O'Neill, Siobhan. “Greywater Harvesting for Hotels.” Green Hotelier, International Tourism

Partnership, 17 May 2016,


Tuppen, Holly. “Green Solutions for Hotels: Ozone Laundry.” Green Hotelier, International

Tourism Partnership, 24 July 2013,


Tuppen, Holly. “ Water Management and Responsibility in Hotels.” Green Hotelier, International

Tourism Partnership, 22 Mar. 2013,



“Waste Management.” Green Hotelier, International Tourism Partnership, 27 Nov. 2009,






Gallagher, C. (2018). Miami Mandarin Oriental's Waste, Waste and Plastic. Retrieved from


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