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Travel industr y cuts down on plastic waste

Hotels, airlines, cruises ditching straws, bottles

Nancy Trejos


The hospitality industry no longer is being hospitable to plastic waste.

Momentum is growing to minimize the use of single-use plastic among hotels, airlines, airports and cruise lines. That means plastic straws, cups, bottles, laundry bags and even packaging for hotel guestroom slippers are starting to disappear.

Plastic waste has wreaked havoc on tourist destinations around the world. Late last year, authorities in Bali, Indonesia, declared a “garbage emergency” because of the amount of plastic washing up on a nearly 4-mile stretch of beach on the island’s west coast.

“The visibility of plastic waste in our community is becoming much more prevalent, especially in the travel industry,” says Denise Naguib, vice president of sustainability and supplier diversity for Marriott International. “It’s much more visible not to the microscopic portion of the public paying attention to these things, but to everyday travelers.”

Some recent industry efforts to reduce plastic:

Hilton will eliminate plastic straws across its managed hotels globally by the end of this year. It will also get rid of plastic bottles from its conference and event spaces. Across Greater China and Mongolia, its managed hotels have been removing plastic water bottles from meetings and events, health clubs and spas since September 2017. That has resulted in the elimination of 13 million plastic bottles annually. In Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, Hilton’s managed hotels have already transitioned away from plastic straws. The properties now offer biodegradable paper straws on demand, which has led to the reduction of 2.5 million plastic straws annually.

Marriott is replacing individual, small amenity bath bottles at five select- service brands in North America with recyclable 8.5-oz. dispensers containing Paul Mitchell Tea Tree products. The company expects about 1,500 hotels in North America to participate in the initiative by year’s end. That will result in the elimination of about 34.5 million bottles and 375,000 pounds of plastic in an average year.

AccorHotels — parent company of Fairmont, Raffles, Swissôtel, Novotel and more — recently announced a pledge to ban the use of plastic straws at its North and Central America properties starting this July. Already, several hotels have instituted a “straw upon request only” policy.

InterContinental Hotels Group is implementing bulk-size bath amenities across many of its brands, including Holiday Inn Express, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, Avid hotels, EVEN Hotels, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.

Alaska Airlines will begin replacing plastic stirring sticks on its flights and frequent-flier lounges with compostable versions made of white birch. Citrus picks will switch from plastic to bamboo starting July 16.

Carnival Cruise Line announced in April that it no longer will serve plastic straws for sodas or cocktails, except for frozen drinks. Guests will have to request straws if they want them.

Marriott has switched to using reusable shampoo dispensers at five of its brands. MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL

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