Zero waste and the 7R

To define: what is zero waste?

” Zero waste ” defines a concept which is trying to avoid the production of garbage completely.

What does this “zero waste” concept exactly mean?

It is generally to the prevention of waste. It is becoming more and more evident that we have a problem with our waste worldwide. The strategy of the past few years of merely exporting the garbage to Asia or Turkey or burning it has turned out to be a dead end. The goal of the zero waste concept is the complete avoidance of waste and its complete recovery. This goes hand in hand with a change in our awareness of our consumer behaviour and, coupled with this, the conservation and regeneration of resources…

What should Zero Waste change?

Basically: To change the linear flow of raw materials into a circular flow of raw materials.

What does that mean exactly? In the past, the flow of goods was predominantly linear. Raw materials became consumer goods, they were consumed, and their leftovers or waste was finally disposed of in landfills. Zero waste changes this linear approach to a circular approach. Consumer goods are redesigned and only manufactured in such a way and then packaged so that they are added to the cycle after consumption and thus can be used again. The result is that both producers and consumers have to change their products and consumer behaviour positively. The aim of the zero waste concept is thus the circular economy.

Which relevant areas does this concern?

Disposable plastic

Packaging materials

Food and cosmetics (amenities)

Electrical appliances

Is zero waste more expensive?

The question is the other way around, is one-way plastic cheaper?

In a direct comparison, a single-use product may seem cheaper at first glance than a zero-waste product. However, the question is, what are the hidden costs of a single-use product that is not imposed on the individual consumer when purchasing it, but rather the hidden costs that society and our environment have to bear?

The hidden costs: Disposal costs: from 01.01.2021, 0.80 EUR per kg of plastic waste 480851

Municipal costs: 700 million EUR annually for Germany to dispose of one-way plastic and cigarette butts.

Due to the increased consumption of food and beverages outside the home due to the Corona restrictions, 11 per cent more packaging waste was generated in March and April 2020 compared to the same period in the previous year. Even before the Corona crisis, there were 28,000 tons of garbage annually in Germany in disposable cups for hot drinks and 155,000 tons of garbage in disposable food containers. This amount corresponds to around 320,000 used disposable cups and around 800,000 disposable food boxes, plates and bowls per hour.


Since when is it the Zero Waste concept?

Wikipedia writes about this:

The Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) was founded in 2002 to establish global standards for the development of Zero Waste. On November 29, 2004, the first internationally recognized definition to be reviewed by experts ( peer review ) was adopted by the ZWIA planning group. The revised definition of ZWIA from 20th December 2018 reads :

“Zero Waste: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

“Zero Waste: The conservation of all resources through responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials without incineration and without emissions to land, water or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

– Zero Waste International Alliance

What can you do to implement a zero-waste concept?

The 7 Rs

  1. Rethink (rethink) which can be directly into the internal processes change
  2. Refuse (reject, avoid): Reject unnecessary
  3. Reduce (reduce): keep it simple, U n Necessary not buy
  4. Reuse (reuse): use everything as often and as long as possible
  5. Repair: repair as much as possible, wash and reuse
  6. Recycle (recycling or upcycling ): Dispose of consciously, separated according to material
  7. Rot (compost): compost


The next time you purchase materials for hotel rooms, spa, F&B, you can actively save plastic immediately and choose the unpackaged, plastic-free and most environmentally friendly option. To bring about this change, you have to actively inform yourself about sustainability, plastic-free living, environmental protection, zero waste and implement strategies from them and then act on them. Essential, it starts with the first step, nobody can live completely sustainably overnight. Many small steps are necessary, and the important thing is that you have set out on the path.


One often has a choice. Conscious rejection and avoidance allow us to make a statement and consciously buy plastic-free items. For example, unpackaged vegetables and fruit, crates instead of disposable bags. Glass bottles in the deposit system instead of one-way.


The reduction concerns items in hotel rooms, spas and restaurants: If you go through the inventory and then discover that there are things there that you haven’t used for a long time, what do you do with them? These things represent resources which, if not used, are missing from the cycle. Better to sort out, sell, give away and exchange on exchange exchanges and platforms. Unused things must come back into the cycle and reduce unnecessary production elsewhere.


Reuse stands for reuse. We are talking about reusable items instead of single-use items. Single-use or disposable items generate tons of waste. The most extreme example is the to-go mug, which has an average lifespan of 10 minutes. According to the consumer advice centre, “the number of all on-the-go cups for hot and cold drinks has doubled in the last 25 years. If you only look at the hot drinks, the increase is a whopping 500 per cent. Including accessories such as lids, straws and stirring rods, the to-go cups alone generate around 55,000 tons of waste every year in Germany. This means that the mug has overtaken the plastic bag as a waste generator in everyday life.” Instead, everyone can have an insulated coffee mug with them, and many cafés even offer coffee at a lower price. The breakfast buffet’s idea is to replace disposable packaging such as jams, butter, chocolate cream, tea packaging, and coffee capsules with sustainable alternatives.


Things break, but that doesn’t automatically mean they are broken. You can always look for ways to repair them and thus use them for as long as possible. What the in-house technician cannot repair, perhaps volunteer experts in repair cafés can fix. In many cities, some organizations offer to help each other to fix things.


Everything that cannot be repaired, reduced or reused should be sent for recycling and thus the material cycle. The recycling industry suggests to us that our raw materials are fed back into the cycle. In the case of metals and glass, that may be true, but plastics’ recycling rate is extremely low. According to the German news program “Tageschau”:

“The Federal Environment Agency assumes that 99 per cent of this waste will be” recycled “. Many people believe that recycling can turn most plastic into new plastic. But that’s not the case! The “Plastic Atlas”, published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and BUND in 2019, shows exactly what happens to the 5.2 million tons of plastic waste generated in German households and businesses: 60 per cent of our waste becomes “energetically recovered”. That sounds good at first – but it means nothing else than The garbage is burned and produces fossil CO2… The garbage is used, for example, as a substitute fuel in cement production.

And don’t forget that resources like energy and water are also lost in the process.

Rot ( composting)

The final stage in the Zerowaste concept is composting. Composting is ideal for kitchen and food waste, coffee grounds, for example. You can compost with odourless composting containers on your premises. So perfect to use the compost for the hotel’s vegetable or herb garden! The liquid that collects in these containers can be drained and used perfectly as liquid flower fertilizer.

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