Electronic Waste – How can hotels prevent this ecological hazard?

by | Aug 3, 2021

The increase of digitalisation in the modern world has given birth to much high-tech electronic equipment used daily by almost every individual. However, when this equipment is no longer required, becomes defective, or when they reach the end of their lifetime, they are discarded, creating what is known as ‘e-waste’. With over 50 million tons of technological scraps generated every year, the amount of e-waste has escalated massively due to its poor recycling rate. Modern travellers are more aware of these hazards and expect hotels to act in an environmentally responsible manner.

Why is e-waste a problem?

All types of waste containing electrically powered components are collectively known as e-waste. The increase in the use of ICT and telecommunications equipment, office electronics, medical equipment, toys, and sports equipment is leading to widespread growth in e-waste.

Being up to date with the latest technology is a must in almost every industry. The constant upgrades in technology lead to the frequent disposal of old electronic items. According to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020, 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste were generated worldwide in 2019. Such volumes of e-waste, combined with poor recycling methods, have turned out to pose an imminent threat to the environment. The toxic elements found in e-waste pollute the environment and disrupt the balance of the ecosystems.

Disposal of waste in hotels is increasingly difficult due to the lack of recycling. Reports predict that by the year 2030, global e-waste will nearly double to reach 74 million metric tons. This is a rather alarming situation that requires immediate attention.

Benefits of recycling e-waste

For many of these hotels, the landscapes, clear seas, and fresh mountain air that they market are at risk due to the increase of e-waste. Saving natural resources is therefore vital for maintaining their position in the industry. Studies show that 98% of components in an electronic device are recyclable. Proper recycling of these devices would help hotels to leave a greener footprint.

Saving the environment is another benefit of recycling e-waste. Proper disposal and recycling of e-waste can reduce toxic emissions. These emissions are not only harmful to the environment but also harmful for the inhabitants. This is because the emissions released from e-waste are partially responsible for diseases like cancer in humans and animals.

Recycling in the modern day has strong public support. Guests are more attentive about the actions taken by hotels to ensure the protection of the environment. The increasing consciousness among travellers around sustainability and recycling is creating a significant influence in the market. Recycling e-waste would create a positive public relations move. Hotels that are committed to recycling e-waste would be regarded with a good reputation in the public eye. This will create a more willingness amongst guests to make these hotels their ideal stay.

Removing data appropriately is another important benefit of recycling e-waste, and this is especially crucial in the hotel industry. The hotel industry has a vast database containing sensitive data of many guests and ensuring proper removal of data from old hardware before disposal is, therefore, a must. Permanently removing data from a mobile phone and computer requires special software and proper strategy, and effective e-waste channels ensure the protection of customer data. Necessary steps are taken to duly extract customer data and to aptly remove it.

E-waste and hospitality

The hospitality industry is among the sectors that generate a high amount of e-waste. Providing guests with a memorable and comfortable stay requires the aid of technology for many services. Therefore, hotels require the best and the latest models of computer systems. This causes a constant change of older models into newer versions. Discarding the older equipment after an update needs to be done in a structured and proper manner. Apart from the moral duty of protecting the environment, hotels should also take caution to erase guest’s sensitive data from the older equipment before disposing of it. Apart from recycling these items efficiently, by adopting updatable hardware and using tech solutions that require less dedicated hardware, the hotel industry could make a huge contribution towards global e-waste management.

Cloud computing is one powerful method through which updates requiring hardware overhauls can be reduced. Adopting cloud computing will give hotels access to easily updatable hardware. Innovation could be done faster, and changes will take effect immediately. It could also be easily integrated with other tools which are necessary to create a smooth guest experience. The need to constantly discard hardware and upgrade to new versions of the same will no longer exist. IDS’ cloud solutions consist of effortless updates and ease of access. It is hosted securely on Microsoft Azure Cloud, the most secure code based on proven technology around the globe. Its continuous data protection provides blanket security to all sensitive guest data. Adopting updatable cloud solutions would therefore create a vast influence upon global e-waste management.

Recycling e-waste is just as important as recycling any other waste stream. Recognising the threat e-waste poses and taking actions to minimise its damage should therefore be made a priority in the hotel industry.

Varadharajan Athmanathan | IDS NEXT


Varadharajan Athmanathan

Vice President – Professional Services

He joined IDS Next in 2011 as a product specialist amassing an extensive understanding of hospitality technology and its use in daily hotel operations. His primary task of leading the IDS Next’s Technical Support Centre includes managing its 24/7 technical support operations.