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How Banning Tiny Plastic Shampoo Bottles And Other Amenities Can Affect Hotels
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Courtesy: Leslie Wu | News Source:

Tough luck, perpetual hoarders of tiny hotel shampoo bottles, lip gloss, hand sanitizer or other bathroom amenities — those little luxuries will soon be as dated as the ashtrays that graced hotel smoking rooms of the past.

As plastic becomes anathema in the hospitality world and beyond, both hoteliers and legislators are shining the spotlight on waste in hotels, following the cases of plastic bags in grocery stores and plastic straws in restaurants. This summer, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an upcoming government ban on single-use plastics as early as 2021, and new standards and targets for manufacturers of plastic products or those companies that sell items with plastic packaging — legislation that could greatly impact the quick service and fast casual segments of the foodservice industry.

In October, a new bill was passed in California (which will come into effect in 2023) that will fine hotels with over 50 rooms if small plastic bottles under 12 ounces are found. Granted, the amounts are somewhat trivial thus far ($500 for each day on the first violation, $2,000 on the second violation), but for a smaller hotel with less than 50 rooms (whose staff must comply with the bill by 2024), these fines could prove to be catastrophic to their bottom line. A bill currently in the New York State Senate also seeks a similar ban.

Marriott Hotel Chain To Phase Out Small Plastic Toiletry Bottles

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NEW OLREANS, LA - AUGUST 28: Small plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion sit in a ... [+]

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Marriott International announced in August that it would be replacing the single-use toiletry bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel with larger, pump-topped bottles — an initiative that was already rolled out in 1,000 properties in some of its brands including Courtyard by Marriott, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, Fairfield by Marriott and TownePlace Suites. The rest of the company is expected to fall into line by December 2020. Marriott estimates that it will prevent 500 million tiny bottles annually from going to landfills, or 1.7 million pounds of plastic.

IHG made a similar announcement this year about its swap from small to large scale bathroom amenities in its 843,000 guest rooms by 2021 — a switch the brand estimates will eliminate the 200 million bathroom miniatures currently in use across its entire hotel estate every year.

Even the house of mouse will be phasing out the bottles on its Disney properties, including cruise ships.

What, then, does this change mean for a luxury customer accustomed to not only individual, but often personalized, hotel amenities? In an era of increased competition for the traveler’s discretionary income, will these measures be seen as environmental initiatives or, as in the case of reduced washing of sheets and towels, viewed as cutbacks impacting the overall hotel experience? Will enough of the hospitality industry be willing to risk appealing to a customer’s sense of the greater good at the risk of alienating guests used to stashing these toiletries in their luggage?

When asked about complaints, IHG chief executive Keith Barr didn’t seem too worried. “I probably get a complaint now and then from a customer who liked to take them home,” Barr told The Washington Post. “I’m happy to get those complaints, because I know we’re doing the right thing for the environment.”

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