24 Jul 2022


The Law of Hospitality: EPA and Environmental Issues

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Academic level: University

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Globally, there have been increased concerns about environmental protection in the recent past. These concerns have resulted in the enactment of regulations touching on nearly all industries in the U.S ( Barth & Hayes , 2006 ). Hospitality is amongst the industries affected by this development. In particular, the hospitality industry has received a lot of attention from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as other regulators. Given the industry's importance to the U.S economy, specific practices by resorts and hotels have been exposed to an increased array of environmental regulations. Organizations operating within the hospitality sector are expected to pay increased attention to the close association between environmental issues, their business operations, and their ability to offer quality services to their guests and customers. This is particularly in the context of resource use, adherence to safety standards, and the need to meet the demands of customers. This paper will explore the law of hospitality while focusing on environmental issues. 

Law of Hospitality in the Context of Environmental Issues 


Hospitality law can be conceptualized as a body of law that relates to the lodging, travel, and foodservice industries. This body of law governs particular nuances of hotels, transportation, bars, events, restaurants, spas, conventions, and country clubs ( Barth & Hayes , 2006). These laws have taken time to develop as courts, and the society sought to define the most appropriate relationship between hospitality businesses and the individuals who act as guests. 

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Numerous entities drive the application of the law in the hospitality sector. These include local agencies and the federal government, non-governmental organizations, investors, and customers ( Barth & Hayes , 2006) . Firstly, both the local agencies and federal government are involved in outlying the specific safety and regulatory standards imposed on restaurants and hotels. Secondly, non-governmental entities increasingly pressure the government and business agencies to adopt novel industry-wide environmental protection-related practices. 

Investors are primarily concerned about the profitability of their companies. However, currently, they are paying increased attention to customer demands, public relations, and sustainable practices that can ensure the profitability of business endeavors. On the other hand, customers are increasingly buying from businesses that are ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘green’ ( Han et al., 2011 ). In the context of hospitality, this has given rise to the concept of ‘eco-tourism.’ 

Environmentally friendly practices in the hospitality industry are focused on aspects that have been deemed historically damaging or wasteful to the environment. For instance, the industry has had a significant negative reputation for generating waste. In this case, regulations are geared towards addressing such problems as overconsumption of resources and generation of excess waste ( Barth & Hayes , 2006 ). Entities in the hospitality industry are thus required to recycle more, source their food more carefully, and use bulbs that are low-energy and low-flow showers and toilets. 

Specific Laws 

The EPA regulates pesticides, water pollution, and air pollution, among other aspects of the hospitality industry. In this regard, the agency pays particular attention to waste discharge issues, especially toxic waste, in the form of cleaning chemicals or pesticides ( Barth & Hayes , 2006). Notable among the laws enforced by EPA include the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Toxic Substances Control Act. 

The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 is a federal law that is aimed at empowering the EPA to set drinking water quality standards. The agency also oversees the towns, suppliers, and states that enforce and implement these standards ( Barth & Hayes , 2006). The act also mandates EPA to oversee the treatment of public water supplies, promote public water systems' compliance capacity, offer technical support to small water systems, control the injection of harmful fluids into the underground, and protect drinking water sources ( Tiemann, 2014 ). 

The Clean Air Act of 1963 regulates air emission from both mobile and stationary sources. The federal law gives EPA the authority to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The NAAQS are aimed at protecting public welfare and health. Section 112 of the Act requires EPA to regulate the emission of hazardous air pollutants ( McCarthy et al., 2007). The EPA monitors the quality of indoor air in the hospitality industry, focusing on such issues as smoking. 

The Clean Water Act of 1972 was aimed at restoring and maintaining the biological, chemical, and physical integrity of the country’s waters. Thus, the act established the structure needed in regulating the discharge of pollutants into U.S waters and the quality of surface waters. Through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), the EPA controls wastewater discharge from various industries, including the hospitality industry ( Meunier et al., 2006). 

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, the EPA is granted authority to ensure that the necessary record-keeping, reporting, testing requirements are met. The agency is also concerned with restrictions associated with chemical mixtures and/or substances ( Schierow, 2010; Schmidt, 2016). The act also covers the importation, use, production, and disposal of specific chemicals. The EPA is involved in evaluating both existing and new chemicals and their associated risks. In the hospitality industry, the EPA ensures that any harmful chemicals present in the industry do not get into the environment. In this case, the agency pays attention to such aspects as proper waste disposal and recycling. 

Increased concerns for environmental protection have resulted in the enactment of various regulations targeted at all industries in the U.S. One such industry is hospitality. The EPA has been at the forefront of ensuring that the industry adheres to different laws. Notable laws affecting the hospitality industry include the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Toxic Substances Control Act. The agency’s directives on these laws are implemented in conjunction with both the local and state governments. 


Barth, S. C., & Hayes, D. K. (2006).  Hospitality law: managing legal issues in the hospitality industry . John Wiley & Sons. 

Han, H., Hsu, L. T. J., Lee, J. S., & Sheu, C. (2011). Are lodging customers ready to go green? An examination of attitudes, demographics, and eco-friendly intentions.  International Journal of Hospitality Management 30 (2), 345-355. 

McCarthy, J. E., Copeland, C., Parker, L., & Schierow, L. J. (2007). Clean Air Act: A summary of the act and its major requirements. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.

Meunier, D., Rider, T., Currey, G., Zobrist, M., & Bradley, P. (2006). Water Quality Management Using the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Watershed Framework: EPA's New Technical Guidance.  Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation 2006 (6), 5651-5672 . 

Mui, S. & Levin, A. (2020). Clearing t he Air: The Benefits Of The Clean Air Act . Retrieved from https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/benefits-clean-air-act-ib.pdf 

Schierow, L. J. (2010, February). The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements. Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service.

Schmidt, C. W. (2016). TSCA 2.0: A new era in chemical risk management.

Tiemann, M. (2014).  Safe drinking water act (SDWA): A summary of the act and its major requirements  (pp. 7-5700). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. 

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