From plastic straws to the complete elimination of single-use plastics, more and more in the hospitality industry are opting to create a sustainable travel experience.
The world is now producing roughly 300 million tons of plastic each year
Plastic is one of the defining inventions of our time, yet there’s no denying its negative impact on our environment. The low production cost and versatile range of applications make plastic a convenient comfort in the modern day. At the same time, the throwaway nature of these single-use products adds up to being one of the top sources of pollution throughout our oceans.
In fact, about 8.8 million tons is then dumped directly into our oceans, a startling rate considering plastic will never fully decompose.
From Starbucks to IKEA, many major corporations and businesses are opting to ditch single-use plastics from their day-to-day operations–and the hospitality space is no different. Hotels and airlines finds themselves with a unique opportunity to really impact the effects of global plastic consumption as they often provide disposable products at mass scales.
Many major players in the hospitality industry have already eliminated plastic straws, while others have opted to phase out single-use plastic products entirely.
Plastic free hotels? Which major hotels and airlines specifically are leading against plastic waste?
Plastic free hotels
Across 650 managed hotels around the world, Hilton has committed to removing plastic straws by the end of 2018. At the same time, Hilton has removed plastic water bottles from its conference rooms. The hotel group estimates that this will save roughly 5 million plastic straws and up to 20 million water bottles annually. They also revealed their goal to cut their environmental impact in half by 2030.
One of the pioneers of innovation in this space, Six Senses operates 11 resorts and 31 spas in over 20 countries that bottles its own water on-site to reduce the use of plastic water bottles. They’ve also begun using a number of alternatives to plastic straws that includes paper, bamboo and lemongrass. As part of their “Earth Lab” initiative, Six Senses has adopted a policy of zero-waste, meaning all materials have a new purpose.
Four Seasons Hotel announced that all 110 of their hotels would ban the use of plastic straws by the end of 2018, while an estimated 20 percent of the locations are already in the process of switching to biodegradable straws.
At the beginning of 2018, Anantara and AVANI announced that they would eliminate plastic straws from all hotels and resorts. The major hotel brand became one of the first of its kind in the Asia region to eradicate plastic straws completely, with a roll-out strategy expected Australasia, Europe and Middle East in the coming months.
Across its 55 properties, AM Resorts has opted to stop serving drinks with plastic straws and will provide biodegradable alternatives upon request.
Starting September 2018, Hyatt Hotels has put into motion an initiative to eliminate plastic straws and drink picks. These items are now only available upon request, however, sustainable alternatives are to be introduced shortly. In 2014, Hyatt introduced its 2020 Environmental Sustainability Vision that included ambitious targets to reduce energy consumption, emissions, water usage and waste.
Run by Indian Hotels Company Ltd, the Taj Group of hotels is actively working to gradually phase out single-use plastic completely. All plastic wrappers for in-room amenities have been replaced with oxo biodegradable wrapping, while sandwich trays, utensils and straws are now offered in wooden and paper alternatives. The spectacular 72-villa Taj Exotica Resort & Spa on Havelock Island is completely free of single-use plastic and boasts its own water bottling plant, a sanitation treatment plant and a waste disposal system.
As part of their “Stay Plastic Free” initiative, Edition Hotels has revealed their target to become 100% plastic free by March of 2019. The luxury hotel brand operates properties in New York, Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, Miami and London.
The Marriott International revealed that they will plastic straws out of 60 of its UK locations then later revealed that all 6,500 of its worldwide hotels and resorts along with its corporate HQ will be straw-free by July 2019. In total, the company expects to eliminate 1 billion plastic straws each year. In addition, the Marriott group has introduced a new shower-product dispenser system in lieu of providing throwaway shampoo and conditioner bottles.
With philanthropy deeply rooted into the core of this hotel group, Akaryn has announced their intention to become the first single-use plastic free hotel company in Asia. With the goal that by 2020, all six of its Thai locations will have completely adopted the eco-friendly approach. The group’s newest opening, akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok launched earlier this year, became one of Asia’s first hotels to open with this pledge, instead offering guests a branded stainless steel water bottle with drinking dispensers located on every floor.
The hotel chain set a ban on plastic straws of 125 UK locations which started in June 2018. Instead, restaurants and bars will go straw-free when possible, while paper biodegradable alternatives will made available if absolutely necessary.
About 40 percent of Kimpton Hotels have committed to offering plastic straws solely upon request while they are in the process of implementing them with compostable and metal alternatives. A majority of their properties within the U.S. and Grand Cayman have opted for mounted or freestanding bath amenities instead of plastic bottles.
The collection of boutique hotels and lodges had began banning single-use plastics in December 2017 as part of the company’s “Multi-Year Plastics Elimination Strategy.” They’ve also begun to replace plastic straws and takeaway coffee cups and lids with eco-friendly alternatives made from biodegradable materials. In Cape Town, the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa location has adopted bamboo and cardboard straws, while The Ruben at the Palace hotel in London has opted for pasta straws.
Across all their locations throughout Europe, North America, South America, the Caribbean and Africa, Oetker Collection has issued a ban all single-use plastics completely including straws, utensils, cups and wrappings.
As part of their “switch-out no plastic” campaign, the hotel chain now offers biodegradable straws instead of plastic ones, whereas their rooms have glass cups and filtered water instead of plastic bottles.
The hotel operator has set into motion a plan to phase out the use of all disposable plastics from their properties by April 2019. This will include plastic straws, water bottles and cutlery across 43 hotels, 60 spas, 72 retail galleries and 3 golf courses across 24 countries.
After successfully phasing out single-use plastics throughout all hotel activity in New York City, Arlo Hotels has committed to be completely free of single-use plastics by 2019.
Nikki Beach Hotels
The collection of resorts and spas has already pledged to get rid of all plastic straws in favor of biodegradable options, but that’s just the beginning of an entire environmental campaign. Furthermore, as part of their “360 approach to sustainability” program, the property has opted to stop using takeaway containers, reduce plastic packaging, opt for recyclables and regularly hosts beach-cleaning events.
In December 2017, the hotel chain opened their new first location in the Mayan Riviera. The eco-friendly Hotel Xcaret Mexico aims to be a leader in sustainable and socially-responsible tourism by offering guests straws made from avocado pits, reusable glass bottles and adhering to a strict recycling and waste management system.
Plastic Free Airlines
Alaska Airlines was one of the first charter companies to eliminate their use of plastic straws. In July 2018, plastic straws were banned from all airport lounges, as well as international and domestic flights. In 2017, Alaska Airlines dolled out an astonishing 22 million plastic stir straws and citrus picks, which are too lightweight to be recycled and therefore end up in landfills and waterways.
American Airlines has already replaced plastic straws with biodegradable alternatives and swapped drink picks in favour of wooden ones. The move towards eco-friendly flatware will continue in November as stir sticks will be replaced with a bamboo substitution. American Airlines expects to cut down on 71,000 pounds of plastic annually.
The budget behemoth has vowed to eliminate the use of non recyclable plastics on all aircrafts and at their head office by 2023. This will include a switch towards biodegradable cups, wooden cutlery and paper packaging.
Thai Airways has banned the use of plastic straws on all flights except upon request by the disabled, elderly and children.
Plastic Free Destinations
Several destinations are taking actions to #RethinkPlastic.
California has become the first state to implement a partial ban on plastic straws. Dine-in restaurants will no longer be allowed to automatically provide customers with straws. Instead, customers who need plastic straws will have to request them.
Chile’s Constitutional Court ratified a bill that bans retail use of plastic bags across the country on July 6. Large retailers will have six months to phase out single-use plastic bags, while small businesses will have up to two years.
Becomes the first U.S city to ban plastic straws and utensils. The roughly 5,000 eateries in the city are being encouraged to eschew providing straws or disposable utensils, or at least to switch to paper alternatives.
The European Commission proposed a ban on 10 common items that it says make up about 70 percent of the litter in EU waters. This includes plastic straws, drink stirrers, plates, and more.
In April, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her intent to establish a ban in her country on sales of single-use plastics, including straws and cotton swab handles.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his intent to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022. With a fast-growing economy and population of 1.3 billion, India struggles to manage its vast waste stream, and is a significant contributor to global ocean plastic.
In an effort to reduce the environmental damage caused by plastic pollution, Belize has pledged to ban single-use plastic items by 22 April 2019.
Rio de Janeiro
Restaurants, snack bars, bars and similar places, beach barracks, and street vendors in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro to use and provide their customers with straws made only of biodegradable and/or recyclable paper.