ATLANTA—IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) announced that it will remove plastic straws from its global estate by the end of 2019, representing more than 5,400 hotels in nearly 100 countries. Plastic straws have already been removed from nearly 1,000 hotels in its Europe, Middle East, Asia & Africa (EMEAA) region and it is introducing bulk-size bathroom amenities to several hotel brands in the Americas, as part of broader efforts to reduce waste.
Keith Barr, CEO, IHG, commented: “IHG is in almost 100 countries and we touch the lives of millions of people each day. This gives us a responsibility to protect the environment and an opportunity to make a real difference. There is always more we can do to minimize waste, but the work we’re doing to reduce single-use plastic is a powerful example of how we can come together with guests, owners and colleagues to drive positive change.
“This work is not going unrecognized,” Barr adds. “Very recently we were named an industry leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for the second year running, which is a real point of pride for us and recognition of the hard work and dedication of our people and partners around the world.”
Madhu Rajesh, Director, the International Tourism Partnership (ITP), commented: “IHG’s committed action to reduce plastic waste demonstrates its ability to be a force for good in local communities around the world. With initiatives like these, and through close industry collaboration, the hotel and tourism industry can continue to lead the way in setting clear and quantifiable commitments that improve sustainability. This was central to ITP’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals and allows our industry to be at the forefront of sustainable growth.”
Decision to Have Huge Impact
IHG’s decision to remove plastic straws from its global estate will eliminate an average of 50 million single-use plastic straws from more than 5,400 IHG-branded hotels each year. Laid end-to-end, the straws removed would span some 10,500 kilometers—stretching from New York to Tokyo. The removal of plastic drinking straws will be implemented through a global brand standard, with biodegradable alternatives to be made available.
IHG is introducing bulk-size bathroom amenities across several brands in its Americas region. Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites brands are all increasing their adoption of larger-size dispensers EVEN Hotels and avid hotels brands have included bulk-size amenities since they were launched, and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants began rolling them out last year. Sustainability was also an important part of IHG’s approach to developing its new upscale brand, voco Hotels. IHG will seek to reduce single-use plastics by moving away from miniature bathroom amenities.
As part of its longer-term plans, IHG already has a number of other waste reduction efforts underway around the world that reinforce a long-standing commitment to managing its business responsibly.
Through partnerships with Clean the World in the Americas and Soap for Hope in Asia, nearly 450 IHG-branded hotels have collectively prevented nearly 200,000 kg of soap from going to waste. Instead of heading to landfill, the soap has been recycled into nearly three million new bars for redistribution to communities who need it the most.
The IHG Green Engage system, IHG’s well-established online sustainability program, recommends ways for IHG branded hotels worldwide to manage their waste more effectively. This includes guidance on how they can handle, store, recycle and dispose of waste both on and off-site, to minimize environmental impact and costs.