AUSTIN, Texas—Just one year after setting out to become a zero-waste hotel, Four Seasons Hotel Austin has become the only hotel in Texas—and one of only a handful of businesses in the country—to reach the environmental goal.
The push to become zero waste, defined as diverting at least 90 percent of waste from the landfill, started in late November 2013 and was initially a two-year project, but thanks to a concerted effort by hotel employees and the expert assistance of partner Texas Disposal Systems, the initiative was accomplished in nearly half the time.
“This truly is a testament to Four Seasons employees being able to accomplish anything they put their hearts and minds into,” says Rob Hagelberg, general manager at Four Seasons Hotel Austin. “Watching behaviors change and seeing the pride employees took in contributing to the effort was inspiring.”
The official zero waste designation was bestowed in January after Texas Disposal Systems completed an audit finding that the hotel successfully diverted 263 tons of waste through recycling and 262 tons through compost. Only 58 tons of waste went to the landfill in all of 2013. Those numbers show that the hotel has decreased its environmental waste footprint by more than 900 percent since 2012.
Also to be commended for this feat are the hotel’s guests since in-room composting, one of the most unique components of the initiative, was key to getting the hotel to the required diversion rate. It’s estimated 18 percent of guests participated in the guest room composting program. “We couldn’t have done it without their assistance, and we look forward to even more guests joining us in our efforts in 2014,” said Hagelberg.
With the initial goal accomplished, members of the hotel’s sustainability committee have set their sights on a 95 percent diversion rate by 2015.