Compostable Cups, Plates and Cutlery Make Inroads


Three wire stories caught my interest this week and they all had the same theme: compostable cups, plates and utensils. In the first article, a restaurant called the Grille Zone in Boston was featured. It composts all of the items described above. In fact, there are no trashcans in the eating area and the restaurant produces an average of just 15 pounds of waste per day. The restaurant does not even own a dumpster.

In the second article, Hilton Garden Inn announced the introduction of the ecotainer, an environmentally friendly coffee cup, in more than 340 locations across North America. The all-natural hot beverage cup is coated with a corn-based plastic that allows the cups to be composted, rather than landfilled. The cups will help to reduce the 25 million pounds of petroleum-based plastics needed each year to make conventional plastic-lined paper cups.

In the third release, Marriott International, Inc. announced that it will switch to compostable utensils, plates and cups at its headquarters in Bethesda, Md. The items are made from sugar cane and corn starch. Marriott says the change will lessen the load on area landfills by eliminating 16 tons of Styrofoam and 5.5 tons of plastic forks, knives and spoons annually.

Kudos to the Grille Zone, Hilton and Marriott for making these changes. I strongly encourage Hilton and Marriott to expand their programs, and would love to see other chains and independents get on board as well. Where does one purchase compostable utensils, cups and plates? Here is a list of companies to check out.


International Paper

U.S. Huhtamaki

Biocorp Inc.





Biodegradable Food Service, LLC

Excellent Packaging & Supply

If more properties transitioned to these types of products, the positive impact on the volume of waste sent to landfills would be significant. Compostable items have other advantages as well: They require less energy to produce and provide a way to show your guests, as well as meeting planners, how committed you are to sustainability. One final point: Before purchasing compostables, be sure you have a process in place to properly manage their disposal/composting.

New Founding Sponsor

Green Lodging News welcomes Telkonet as a Founding Sponsor. Telkonet, founded in 1999, specializes in advanced integrated solutions for broadband data networking and energy management, including its highly successful in-building powerline communications (PLC) technology. Headquartered in Germantown, Md., Telkonet has more than 140 employees and serves thousands of customers worldwide.

In 2007, Telkonet acquired Smart Systems International, a leading technology manufacturer of in-room energy management systems. In addition to more than 80,000 hospitality installations, Telkonet’s solutions are distributed by energy services companies for power utilities’ energy efficiency programs, where qualified hotel owners are provided with free, energy-saving retrofits.

Telkonet SmartEnergy (TSE), an intelligent and advanced energy management system, adjusts and maintains a room’s temperature according to occupancy, eliminating wasteful heating and cooling of unoccupied rooms. TSE delivers optimum energy savings without compromising occupant comfort, thanks to its patented Recovery Time technology (RT). RT works quite differently than a typical fixed setback system, where the temperature is set to one fixed amount in all rooms. With TSE, each room’s temperature is adjusted based on many factors, including calculating how far it can drift from the guest’s preferred temperature setting, while ensuring the temperature will return to its setting within minutes of the guest’s return.

For more information, call (877) 536-2984, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or go to

Final IH/M&RS Thoughts

Thank you to George Little Management (GLM), manager of the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show, for allowing me to organize two green panels at this year’s event. The sessions were well attended and the panelists all did a great job. I look forward to working with GLM again next year.

As always, I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..