Certainly one of the hottest topics prior to the pandemic was the trend toward eliminating individual-use plastic items. I recently featured Dr. Megan Morikawa, Global Director of Sustainability for Iberostar Hotels & Resorts and she told me one of the three main goals of her company’s Wave of Change movement is eliminating the consumption of single-use plastics. In fact, in 2020 Iberostar reached its goal and is now 100 percent free of single-use plastics. With a combination of more than 100 owned and managed hotels around the world, that could not have been easy. Thank you Iberostar for showing it is possible!
I bring up single-use plastic items now for a couple of reasons—to encourage you to avoid them if possible, during the pandemic (breakfast cutlery certainly comes to mind)—but to also remind you of efforts in New York State to ban individual-size plastic bottles from hotels and motels. I addressed this particular effort once before but Eric A. Goldstein, Senior Attorney and New York City Environment Director Natural Resources Defense Council, updated us about it this past week. Be sure to read that article and support the legislation if you are part of the hotel industry in New York, or even if you are not.
According to Goldstein, legislation winding its way through the State Legislature could make New York the second state in the nation to ban environmentally troublesome, individual-size plastic bottles from hotels and motels. California is the only other state to ban the tiny toiletry vials. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a ban on individual toiletry bottles in Golden State hotels and motels, beginning in 2023.
One of Several Efforts to Eliminate Plastics
The legislative push—led by State Senator Todd Kaminsky and by Assembly member Steve Englebright—is the latest step in the Legislature’s recent efforts to tackle the ever-growing problem associated with throw-away, single-use plastics. In 2019, the Legislature banned plastic carry-out bags at grocery stores and other retail establishments. And in 2020, it directed the phase-out of polystyrene foam food and beverage containers.
Across New York State, tens of millions of tiny shampoo, conditioner, and other lotion bottles are used and discarded every year in hotels and motels. Although they provide momentary conveniences, these and other plastic containers present environmental problems at every phase of their lifecycle, from manufacture to disposal.
The Kaminsky-Englebright bills, S543 and A5082, would prohibit hotels and motels from providing to guests any plastic bottles smaller than 12 ounces that contain such toiletries as shampoo, conditioner, lotion, or liquid soap. The legislative intent is to prompt innkeepers to switch to larger, re-fillable dispensers, thereby reducing both the amount of unused liquids and the amount of plastic waste generated during every guest visit. The prohibition would take effect January 1, 2024 for all hotels with more than 50 rooms and one year later for all smaller hotels.
Some Hotel Brands Already on Board
Several leading hotel corporations have already begun to embrace the switch-over. Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel chain, has announced plans to remove individual toiletry bottles from its 7,000 properties. The company estimates that this move, when fully implemented, will keep 500 million toiletry bottles out of the waste stream every year.
Plastics used in the production of toiletry bottles and hundreds of other products are made from fossil-fuels. And, increasingly, the manufacture of these products has become an important income source for the oil and gas industry. According to Goldstein, worldwide plastics production is expected to double within 20 years.
No matter what state you happen to do business in, transition to dispensers if you have not already done so. There are many sources for high-quality dispensers with high-end liquids available—a win-win-win for you, your customers, and the environment. And, when you travel, seek out properties that use dispensers. I do it regularly.
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