Marriott International, the world's largest hotel chain, said Wednesday that it will remove small plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel from its hotel rooms around the world by December 2020. large bottles or wall mounted dispensers, depending on the hotel.
The move follows a similar message last month by IHG, which owns Holiday Inn, Kimpton and other brands. IHG said it would eliminate about 200 million small bottles each year by 2021. Last year, Walt Disney Co. said it would replace small plastic shampoo bottles in its resorts and on its cruise ships. Many smaller companies, such as the five Soneva resorts in Thailand and the Maldives, have also removed plastic bottles. Marriott has more than 7,000 hotels in 1
Marriott has been wanting to get rid of the small bottles for years, said President and CEO Arne Sorenson. There are simply too many of them, he said, and they are difficult to recycle because of the time it takes to clean them.
But much work was required to design large counterfeit bottles and to supply suppliers on the board.
"There were a lot of technical features that we had to deal with," he said.
Hotels Rival Hyatt Corp. is now undergoing a similar process. The company says it has tested switchgears in some rooms over the past year.
The Maryland Marriott-based Bethesda began replacing small bottles early last year for some North American brands, including Courtyard and Fairfield hotels. About 1,000 of those now have larger bottles or dispensers for pumps that are attached to the shower wall.
Denise Naguib, Marriott's Vice President of Sustainability and Diversity of Suppliers, said Marriott received a positive response from guest surveys. Many were relieved because the larger bottles allowed them to use as little shampoo as possible.
"More and more people are aware of this," she said. "They don't want to leave half empty bottles."
Naguib said most Marriott hotels will remove small bottles by July 1, 2020. Luxury brands will get rid of them by the end of 2020. Lower-priced brands there will be dispensers or bottles attached to the shower wall. Luxury brands will have unrelated bottles. The bottles contain the equivalent of 10 to 12 small bottles and are all resistant to counterfeiting.
Larger bottles will still be plastic, and Marriott still plans to replace them – not just refill them – when they disappear. But Naguib said larger bottles are easier to recycle than smaller ones.
Environmental groups applaud the move.
"Plastic pollution is an urgent global crisis and now is the time to think of 'reuse' instead of 'disposable', '' said Diana Cohen, co-founder and CEO of the Berkeley Pollution Coalition, California.
Hotels may soon have no choice. California lawmakers are considering banning hotels from using small shampoo bottles in 2023, while the European Union bans a wide range of disposable plastic items such as cutlery and dishes by 2021.
Sorenson said he expects some complaints, like Marriott heard last year banning plastic straws and stirrers. Many people like to collect shampoo bottles at a hotel, he said. His own mother had a drawer full of soap she took from the hotels.
"Human nature is what it is, and we resist change," he said. "But people understand that it's so much better."
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