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Hilton’s Recycling Program Saves $18 Per Mattress

Until recently, hotels under the Hilton flag trashed old mattresses at a rough cost of $30 per bed. A new recycling program has reduced disposal costs to $12, saving the company about $900,00 the past two years.

"Our hotels have purchased more than 50,000 mattresses in the past two years in the U.S. alone,” said Randy Gaines, vice president, engineering operations for the Americas at Hilton Worldwide. "This program presents a great opportunity for our hotels, offers a cost savings to owners and underscores Hilton’s commitment to further reduce waste."

“It’s not just saving money, it’s great for the environment,” says Gaines. That’s because 85% of the mattress is recycled into other products:

• Tempered steel from mattress springs is shredded and sent to steel mills where it becomes raw material for metal products including tools, automobiles, and construction materials.
• Wood from box-spring frames goes to end markets that reuse it in tempered flooring, particle-board shelving and various pressed-wood products.
• Cotton fibers find a second life in oil filters, mats and stuffing.
• Quilted scraps are sent to the re-bonding industry to be chopped and “re-bonded” into carpet padding, commonly recognized by its colored patchwork of scrap foam.

Hilton works with its vendors to simplify the process. Serta brings in new mattresses, while DH Hospitality takes out the old. The companies partner nationwide. Meanwhile, Hilton is still trying to figure out relationships in foreign markets. “It can be a little tricky with rules and regulations,” says Gaines.

The newest sustainability program builds on existing work. “We keep working away at what we can do to continue to exceed the company’s sustainability goals,” he says. “This came out of a brainstorming meeting with the sustainability group and the PR group. We know the biggest item in a room is a mattress. That’s what needed to be recycled.”

Gaines expects the savings to jump up in the next year as business improves. “As business is coming back we’re probably renovating more rooms,” he says. “A lot of our owners need to renovate to stay with the competition with the market.” And, that means more new mattresses.

Additionally, through LightStay, the company’s proprietary management system, hotels are able to report and track the progress of mattress donation and provide additional items during room renovations to Good360, a program that helps identify local nonprofits in need of cased goods. Last month, Hilton Worldwide reported its 2011 results and announced it has achieved its five-year goal to reduce waste by 20 percent, two years ahead of schedule.

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