International hotel chains are now joining the global movement to tackle plastic pollution by introducing sweeping measures to ditch mini toiletry disposables. The InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Six Senses resort spas and InterContinental chains around the world, is making the bold move to switch to refillable dispensers and bottles and ceramic containers by the end of 2021.
By putting an end to providing mini disposable toiletries, the group with over 5,000 hotel sites worldwide will be saving around 200 million bathroom miniatures per year – equivalent to 1 million kilograms of plastic waste.
The InterContinental Group is not the first to take on this challenge. Marriott Hotels, fueled by rising concerns about plastic waste pollution, began phasing out bathroom miniatures and single use straws and stirrers last year. According to their figures, the ban has resulted in a 10.4 million reduction in plastic bottle use, which amounts to 51,000 kilograms per year.
Hotels and businesses seem to be following the lead that some governmental authorities have taken. Bans on plastic have been propped up across the African continent, including impressive flat-out plastic bans passed in Kenya, Morocco and Rwanda. Crackdowns have also taken place in California, where lawmakers are considering lodging a ban against toiletries in plastic bottles under 340ml, as well as wider restrictions against single-use products pledged by the European Union.
But Intercontinental Hotels Group’s decision was prompted by pressure from hotel guests themselves rather than governmental legislation. In a recent interview, the Group’s CEO Keith Barr said that “the reality is our colleagues and customers expect us to take a leadership position on things like waste”.
The pressure to reform is also happening in Asia: In addition to getting rid of plastic straws and providing biodegradable laundry bags in their hotel rooms, Hong Kong and Australian based boutique hotel-chain Ovolo will also follow the trend to ditch bathroom disposables. In a recent statement, the hotel chain announced that it will switch to refillable amenities and save 2 million single use plastic bottles in the process. To replace plastic miniatures, Ovolo will release their own range of “OMG” amenities that are free from parabens, fragrances and synthetics, and will be available in pump bottles that are made from recyclable material.
As our oceans and rivers continue to suffer from plastic pollution, suffocating aquatic life, and ending back in our food ecosystem through micro-plastic consumption, these recent developments signify a positive shift in the right direction.
Lead image courtesy of Freepix.