InterContinental Boston Dramatically Increases Recycling Rate

InterContinental Boston Dramatically Increases Recycling Rate

The InterContinental Boston’s focus on waste reduction, in addition to its other green initiatives, just paid off with its Miel “Brasserie Provençale” restaurant being designated a green restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association. Miel “Brasserie Provençale” is the first hotel restaurant in New England to earn the honor. As part of the Green Restaurant Association’s requirements, Miel “Brasserie Provençale” is required to recycle plastic, glass, aluminum, cardboard and paper. It is also required to recycle kitchen grease and compost pre-consumer kitchen food waste.

“I credit our employees for the vast majority of our recycling success,” Kirwan says.

Waste management is one of the core elements of the InterContinental Hotels Group’s Green Engage program. During employee orientation, its importance is emphasized. The Boston hotel’s green team, which meets quarterly, makes sure there is continuous improvement.

“It’s a team effort,” Eliacin says. “We do walk-throughs and show employees what needs to go in the blue and green containers.” Green is for paper and blue is for glass, cans and bottles.

Recycling bins are placed throughout the hotel. In the front entrance and back office areas there are large recycling containers. While containers are not included in guestrooms, room attendants carefully separate recyclables from non-recyclables and place them in recycling bins in back-of-house areas on each floor. Once bins are full, they are taken to the loading dock.


Eliacin says it was a waste audit conducted in 2010 that really helped to energize the hotel’s recycling program. It was an opportunity to re-educate everyone. Stephanie Loeber, director of public relations at the InterContinental Boston, says department heads were all invited to participate in the audit. “We worked with Save That Stuff and literally went through the trash,” Loeber says. “It was eye-opening.”

Specific Waste-Reducing Steps

A pulper takes food waste and napkins and grinds, compresses and dehydrates it. This is then placed in the removable trash.

Monthly, InterContinental Boston collects used vegetable oil from the kitchens of the hotel and donates it to Lifecyle Renewables, a Massachusetts-based renewable energy provider that offers customers the opportunity to reduce and fix energy costs by producing clean renewable energy on-site. The company converts collected vegetable oil into a biomass fuel and delivers it back to customers to generate renewable energy. In 2010, the hotel recycled 1,880 gallons of vegetable oil—up from 580 gallons in 2009.

In 2009, nearly 30 tons of mixed paper was recycled. In 2010, InterContinental Boston recycled more than 45 tons.

Monthly, all cardboard boxes are broken down and recycled. In 2009, 17 tons of cardboard was recycled and in 2010 nearly 25 tons was recycled.

Monthly, all glass and plastic bottles, cans and plastic packaging materials are collected from all areas of the hotel and are recycled. In 2009, 116 tons of co-mingled materials were recycled and in 2010, 188 tons was recycled.

Each month housekeeping donates clean, damaged bed linens, towels, pillows, half-used shampoo, conditioner, shower gels, lotions, toilet paper rolls along with unclaimed lost and found clothing items to Boston Mother’s Care, an organization assisting the needs of women and children in remote areas of Haiti. In 2009, 80 pounds of soap, shampoo/conditioner, lotions and shower gels were donated and, in 2010, more than 900 pillows were donated.

Cell Phones for Soldiers

All unclaimed cell phones are donated to Cell Phones for Soldiers, an organization which was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass. Cell Phones for Soldiers turns old cell phones into minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas. The phones are sent to ReCellular, which pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each donated phone—enough to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad. In total, 32 phones have been donated to date.

Batteries from cell phones, remote controls, alarm clocks and guestroom doors are collected from all areas of the hotel and recycled. InterContinental Boston also encourages its employees to bring batteries from home to be recycled. In 2010, 188 pounds of batteries were recycled.

Replaced fluorescent, T-4 through T-8 and U-shaped light bulbs from all areas of the hotel are collected and recycled monthly. In 2010, 368 light bulbs were recycled.

InterContinental Boston recently replaced plastic dry cleaning bags with reusable canvas bags.

All guestroom keys are made from bioPVC, a compostable material which is proven to be biodegradable and environmentally safe.

The hotel purchases easily biodegradable items such as hot cups, hot cup sleeves, stirrers and to-go containers.