Is Greening Hospitality as Simple as Better Bins?

Operating 24 hours a day and catering to guests who have different ideas about sustainability make it difficult to make swift, sweeping changes within the hotel industry. But innovative companies are emerging, and T2 Site Amenities is among them. T2 offers recycling receptacles more appealing than the ubiquitous blue bins most people might recognize, and many upscale properties, such as the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, are using the company’s products to up recycling rates and offer meeting planners a greener venue for their events.

backgrounder/
With corporate events being a prime source of revenue for upscale hotels, gaining the business of meeting planners—who increasingly place a high value on a hotel’s green initiatives—is a top priority. “The most visible way for hotels to show [that] they are green is to recycle in public spaces and guest rooms,” T2 Site Amenities president Lori Tilkin says. She and her husband Steve make up a power team at T2, providing a unique line of upscale recycling receptacles to the hospitality industry.

Although most hotels have a sustainability statement, oftentimes their initiatives, such as energy and water conservation, green cleaning products, and waste disposal, are invisible to guests. Yet meeting planners and hotel guests alike want and need to see evidence of a hotel’s green efforts.

challenge/
T2 found that manufacturers were not creating the upscale recycling receptacles that hotels wanted and that recycling was not a core focus for most hospitality distributors. The industry needed a network of manufacturers who understood the needs of the upscale hospitality marketplace.

solution/
Steve and Lori created that very network and partnered with the manufacturers to create their own line of products made from every sustainable material available. T2 now serves as a distributor or representative for more than 25 North American manufacturers, offering products such as trash/recycling receptacles, benches, planters, pool-towel valets, and bicycle racks.

For Sheraton San Diego, green initiatives have become increasingly important to the hotel’s operations and its competitive advantage. “Meeting planners care now more than ever about green initiatives and choose hotels that have synergies with their own green philosophies,” says John Ford, general manager of the Sheraton. “Being truly sustainably oriented gives us a competitive advantage.” Ford chose T2 to help bolster the visibility of the hotel’s green commitment. Among its challenges was to make recycling convenient, aesthetically pleasing, and practical. “T2 has a wide range of products available, and we chose a receptacle that fits with our decor and our environment,” Ford says.

Steve and Lori understood that the products for the Sheraton San Diego needed to have a small footprint, be unobtrusive, and have a subtle presence. Steve says the receptacles could not be so big that they would intrude into traffic patterns but needed to have an operational benefit and flexibility for use in various locations around the property. Sheraton chose T2’s contemporary, tapered recycling receptacles throughout its properties, in public areas and in guest and meeting rooms. Also, the hotel wanted to showcase its environmental initiatives to internal audiences so that staff and executives could see and use the products themselves. Some of the products used were manufactured by DeepStream Designs, a Florida-based company that produces handmade, high-end planters and recycling containers. After meeting the owners of Deepstream at a casual furniture show almost three years ago, the Tilkins offered suggestions for making the products appealing to the hospitality industry. The two companies have maintained a lucrative partnership ever since. And the future looks bright for what T2 has to offer, especially as the hospitality industry continues to engage with the green movement more directly. “Our specialty is recycling; it’s what we do,” Steve says. “By focusing on recycling receptacles, we can offer our customers good, sound advice.”