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A snapshot of solid waste generation in the hospitality industry. The case of a five-star hotel on the island of Malta

Camillieri-Fenech, Margaret; Oliver i Sola, Jordi; Farreny, Ramon; Gabarrell, Xavier

Sustainable Production and Consumption. Volume 21. January 2020. 104.119


The history of tourism in Malta goes back 60 years. While widely hailed for its economic contribution, very little reference is made to the waste externalities that riddle the industry. In islands like Malta, the impacts of waste generation are more pronounced particularly due to the size of the country and its population density. Furthermore, waste originating from the hospitality establishments is, in its majority, landfilled.

Five-star hotels have been established to generate more waste than hotels in lower star categories. Focusing on an established five-star hotel, this research provides a comprehensive case-study that utilises a mixed methodology approach which supplies quantitative figures of waste generated in the a-la-carte, buffet restaurants and residents’ rooms, together with qualitative methods to furnish information and insights about waste generation and reduction initiatives.

Results point to the pervasive problem of plastic and single-use items. In one week, 692.5 kg of waste is generated in the residents’ rooms, 50.3 per cent of which consists of plastic. The impact of single-use items is exposed by the difference in the ‘other’ fraction which reaches 0.05 kg/person, a stark contrast to the remaining fractions which reach 0.01 kg/person.

Food waste is an aspect of the hospitality industry that cannot be side-lined. Plate-waste, measured in a month-long audit performed at the a-la-carte restaurant, reaches an average of 0.21 and 0.16 kg/person at lunch and dinner respectively. The buffet dinner exposes greater wastage with 0.48 kg/person. Preparation waste reached 0.08 kg/person. The relationship between portion sizes and food waste is exposed when the removal of a side plate decreases waste generation from 0.059 kg/person to 0.043 kg/person.