Zero waste tourism in Bled
The previous blog briefly outlined the waste management concept that points society towards a time when waste finally begins to drastically decrease in quantity. We have made a long way to get to this point, when the Infrastruktura Bled public utility collects over 30 solid waste fractions. Some of us still remember the metal waste containers from about 30 years ago which we never managed to fill up? Today, the situation is quite the opposite.
Consumers are not innocent
Consumer society generates waste. We don't need any strong evidence to support this claim, right? On the other hand, every one of us can make a step towards society that produces less waste. Some tips are given in the Zero Waste Hierarchy chart below.
Tourism and waste
Unfortunately, tourism is a commercial activity that leaves behind a long trail of waste. Too long, even. According to the website of ‘Ekologi brez meja’ (Ecologists Without Borders), municipalities actually benefit from their participation in the Zero Waste movement. At the end of 2020, they wrote:
Bled's main challenge remains the tourists, who visit the destination to enjoy the beauties of Slovenia's best-known natural attraction, and in so doing, produce a lot of waste. Through collaboration with hotels, campsites, and other accommodation providers, the municipality pays high attention to raising the awareness of its target audiences about responsible waste management and use of resources, promoting green practices such as drinking water from drinking fountains rather than plastic bottles. Since 2018 the Municipality of Bled has also been operating the Škart Reuse Centre, which gave new life to 3,790 products in 2019, most of them decorative. The eco workshop informing residents how they can make their own organic cleaners and cosmetics that was held in the framework of the European Waste Reduction Week was also very well received.« (Source)
This is true. For several years, Bled Tourist Board has been alerting readers to resource protection and waste management issues on its website and in social media.
© Maja Pančur
Drinking fountains in Bled. No need to buy bottled water! (More information)
On YouTube you can view a film about how to behave in Bled to leave nothing behind but your footprints in the sand (Video).
The first Zero Waste hotel in Slovenia
Ecologists Without Borders drew up the guidelines for Zero Waste hotels and restaurants. As we have said repeatedly in these blogs, waste is a pressing issue in tourism. Bled is no different in this regard. In the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, the number of visitors far exceeded the number of residents (1.2 million overnight stays in 2018 and just about 8,000 residents).
“The daily consumption of various products uses natural resources and energy for production or processing, and transport. When they turn into waste, they are linked to the pollution of water, air, soil, and loss of biodiversity”, say Ecologists Without Borders (Source), which also drafted the concept of introducing zero-waste strategies into the practices of hotels and restaurants.
“All the strategies implemented in order to put the Zero Waste concept to practice are based on the study and analysis of concrete data and the situation at a hotel or restaurant. This keeps them flexible enough to meet environmental goals as well as the microeconomic performance targets at the company level”.
The introduction of the concept into the tourism industry in designed to meet three types of objectives: the economic and social targets, and thirdly, and perhaps the most importantly in terms of future outlook, education and training. In its final phase, the circular economy also creates opportunities for upselling and higher prices (Source).
Bled is proud to have its first Zero Waste hotel in Slovenia. This inspiring story was written at Hotel Ribno.
© Hotel Ribno
Being part of the Zero Waste story
The hotel aims to provide high quality services for the guests to enjoy and for the benefit of nature. The hotel is planning to sort 90% of all collected waste, reduce annual waste by 30% and use 30% less water and energy. They will do this by introducing the following:
- Sorting waste for collection
- Reusing of towels and bedlinen
- Refillable soap or shampoo dispensers as well as reusable containers for sugar, jam, honey and other food in the hotel’s restaurant and kitchen
- Working with local suppliers
A few tips how you can become part of the Zero Waste story:
- Sort waste for recycling
- Drink tap water instead of bottled water
- Remember to turn off the lights in your room
- Use reusable bags when going shopping
- Reuse your towels
- When dining, only take as much food as you are planning to eat
© Hotel Ribno
And what are the results?
The Ecologists Without Borders say:
In May 2018, Hotel Ribno was awarded the Zero Waste Hotel certification. The title ceremony marked the completion of an important stage in the series of measures and changes that the hotel had adopted. The changes are visible in every part of the hotel and its surroundings. Waste measurements showed that the total volume of waste decreased considerably, as did the share of mixed waste, which now stands at an impressive 8% of total waste. The change process involved the hotel management and all the staff, who were actively searching for solutions and opportunities for further improvement.
When asked whether he would advise other hotels to venture on the ‘zero waste’ path, director Matija Blažič says:
“Today we may stand out as a hotel that has done it first but in a few years, any company that doesn’t follow this path will ‘stand out’ for not doing it. Only, in their case, it will be bad publicity.”
Quantity of mixed waste per guest/night in 2016: 0.1845 kg
Quantity of mixed waste per guest/night in 2018: 0.0693 kg
Quantity of mixed waste per guest/night in 2020: 0,0033 kg
Share of separately collected waste in 2016: 81%
Share of separately collected waste in 2018: 92%
Share of separately collected waste in 2020: 92.04%
In terms of waste management, Hotel Ribno and the Municipality of Bled are Slovenia’s success story, but all together we still have a lot of work to do!
Till next time!