Recycling for vacation rental hosts

Manage your vacation home's waste efficiently and sustainably.

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As a short-term rental host or owner, there are many things you can do to reduce the carbon footprint of your business. One of these is recycling. Making sure you and your guests separate trash from recycling is important, not only because trash severely damages the environment, but also because you could be fined if you don’t recycle properly!

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll discover some tips and tricks for ensuring proper garbage collection at your vacation rental, whether it’s a condo, a bed-and-breakfast or a guest house.

Tips for waste management at your vacation home

Now, waste management and the transition to a circular economy is based on the so-called “5 R’s” strategy. What is it, and how can you use it to optimize waste management and recyling at your vacation rental?


The first “R” in this strategy, Refuse, is based on refusing to produce junk. In a world driven by consumerism, saying no to those extra purchases can be difficult. However, to produce less waste materials, a good practice is to ask yourself, “Do I really need to buy this product?” 

With your vacation rental business in mind, what are those products that you might decide not to buy so that you don’t create waste?


A second way to limit the environmental impact of your vacation rental is to produce less waste. How to do this:

  • Buy products without packaging whenever possible. For example, if you want to offer fruit with your included breakfast, try to in bulk rather than packaged.
  • Prefer refillable items rather than disposable, such as for shampoo, bubble bath and hand soap.
  • Avoid plastic silverware or plates: not only are they bad for the planet, they also give your short rental a cheap look.
  • If you really can’t avoid products with packaging, choose those made from recycled materials.

Recycling for vacation rental hosts ᐅ Guide


Lean towards products that can be reused multiple times rather than disposable ones:

  • Provide your guests with reusable bags, in case they wanted to get groceries.
  • When a device breaks in your vacation rental, try to repair it before throwing it away.
  • If you want to replace furniture in your rental, you can sell old items or give them away.


Many products can have a second life when their main purpose is over or when they break down.

Can you repurpose waste from your rental? Here are some examples:

  • Many products can be reused as decorations. Bottles and cans, for example, can become candleholders or flower vases.
  • You might decide to turn an old sheet into cleaning rags rather than throwing it away.
  • Look online for ideas for “creative reuse,” you can find lots of inspiration!


Waste recycling refers to the transformation, through industrial processes, of a waste material into raw material that can be used to create new products.

Clearly, as a homeowner or manager, you cannot do much to help industries recycle plastic, paper, aluminum, and glass. However, you can make sure that the trash is delivered to them separated properly.

For this reason, it is important for each individual to be well-informed about how waste sorting is regulated in the municipality of residence. Especially if you run a vacation home or B&B and often have guests.

How to separate garbage at your vacation home

Now, the importance of properly separating waste at your vacation home is clear. However, how can you, as the manager of a short-term rental, make sure that all the people who pass through your rental recycle properly?

How to get your guests to recycle their waste

Making sure your guests recycle their waste can be a challenging task! First, especially when you often welcome international tourists, they may not be aware of the current rules for recycling collection in your specific municipality.

In addition, most people are less willing to make an effort when they are on vacation. This means that if recycling becomes complicated, and they may decide not to do it.

Here are three tips you can follow to make sure your vacation rental guests recycle waste properly.

Have appropriate recycling bins available

Every self-contained vacation rental should have recycling bins. They should be easily accessible and reachable so that guests do not have to make any effort to use them.

Much of the trash is produced while cooking, so it might be a good idea to place small recycling bins in the kitchen. Our suggestion is to opt for gray bins with colored lids, as they tend to absorb less dirt.

Explain how to recycle trash in your Guest Guide

So, you have now prepared the different recycling bins and placed them in an accessible place? At this point, how can you make sure your guests use them properly?

As mentioned earlier, different countries may have different rules about what you throw in a particular bin. For example, in most areas in the UK Tetra Pak goes in paper, in Germany it goes in plastic. Furthermore, in some states, plastic must be cleaned before being thrown away. In others, it does not.

This means that if you want your guests to recycle, you will have to explain to them how to do it. We recommend that you:

  • Include an in-depth explanation of the colors of the bins and a list of what goes into each one in your digital Guest Guide. Be sure to translate the list into the guest’s native language.
  • Add an explanatory picture next to the bins, so your guests don’t have to check their phones every time they don’t know which bin to throw their waste in.

As sustainable tourism becomes more popular, it is likely that many of your guests will appreciate your effort and follow your directions on proper waste separation.

Offer incentives and benefits for guests who recycle

Several sustainable solutions have developed in the tourism industry in recent years. Think, for example, of accommodations that ask guests whether they want their towels changed daily. In some cases, hotels, hostels or bed & breakfasts even offer a discount if the guest decides to opt for the greener option.

Why not do the same with waste separation?

A discount on admission to a museum, a free day passes for public transportation, a voucher for a local store, a welcome gift-the incentives you could offer them are many.

Recycling for vacation rental hosts ᐅ Guide

Make sure the cleaners sort the waste

Cleaning jobs in a rental are a big source of waste. Imagine having a new guest every weekend: you will have to clean up well at the end of each stay, and this will inevitably create trash.

When you clean the accommodation yourself, you can safely sort the waste. But if you hire a cleaning company, how can you make sure the person in charge does the same?

The best option is to decide to work with a cleaning company that is openly committed to sustainability. If there is not one specifically in your area, you can still contact available cleaning services and make sure they sort waste.

Smoobu’s tip: Our channel manager works with a number of partners who provide cleaning services for vacation rentals. To learn more, check out our integrations.

Dispose of your vacation rental’s special waste properly

Sooner or later, a piece of furniture or electronic device in your vacation home will break, and you will have to throw it away. With so many guests coming and going, it’s inevitable.

Special waste requires different treatment than everyday trash.

  • Find out how to recycle electronic devices in your area and see if it’s possible to reuse some components. In this case, you could donate the devices to the designated organizations.
  • The same goes for old furniture. In many states, you can take them to the landfill. Here waste management workers will send them to appropriate treatment facilities depending on the material they are made of.
  • Finally, there are often companies that, for a fee, can come to your apartment, collect the special waste and dispose of it accordingly.

What benefit does recycling waste bring

The benefits of recycling at your vacation home are many:

  • First, you’re doing something good for the planet.
  • Also, by asking your guests to sort their trash, you avoid being fined.
  • Finally, nowadays, travelers appreciate hosts who offer sustainable accommodations, so you could get positive reviews and potentially increase your bookings.
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