Small Format Toiletries Are On the Outs for Major Hotel Chains
Who hasn’t taken home some of those mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion often found in hotel room bathrooms? In the past, hotels have partnered with brands like Gilchrist and Soames, Bath and Body Works, and L’Occitane, providing coveted scents in a tiny-format sizes only available in guest rooms. But those days will soon be drawing to a close — and for a good cause.
In an effort to incorporate more sustainable practices, major hotel chains including Intercontinental, Marriott and Hyatt are doing away with the pocket-sized amenities you’re used to seeing in hotel room bathrooms.
Intercontinental Hotel Group was the first to make a chain-wide commitment. In July, IHG announced all of its hotels — comprising nearly 843,000 guest rooms — will switch to bulk-size bathroom amenities, with the transition expected to be completed in 2021.
“Switching to larger-size amenities across more than 5,600 hotels around the world is a big step in the right direction, and will allow us to significantly reduce our waste footprint and environmental impact as we make the change,” said Keith Barr, CEO of IHG.
He added, “We’ve already made great strides in this area, with almost a third of our estate already adopting the change. We’re proud to lead our industry by making this a brand standard for every single IHG hotel. We’re passionate about sustainability and we’ll continue to explore ways to make a positive difference to the environment and our local communities.”
Marriott International has rolled out larger bottles at about 1,000 properties in North America and announced in August that it expects most of its other hotels to make the switch by December 2020. When fully implemented across the globe, Marriott officials estimate this initiative will prevent 500 million tiny bottles annually from going to landfills, or about 1.7 million pounds of plastic.
“This is our second global initiative aimed at reducing single-use plastics in just over a year, which underscores how important we believe it is to continuously find ways to reduce our hotels’ environmental impact,” said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International. “It’s a huge priority for us.” [The first initiative was to reduce the use of plastic straws and stirrers.]
Sorenson added, “Our guests are looking to us to make changes that will create a meaningful difference for the environment while not sacrificing the quality service and experience they expect from our hotels.”
Hyatt Hotels, the most recent chain to announce a single-use plastic reduction initiative, has committed to move to large-format bathroom amenities by June 2021. This announcement was tied into a similar commitment to reduce its use of disposable water bottles by increasing water refill stations and only serving bottled water at meetings upon request.
Hyatt has already implemented a similar solution for plastic straws and stirrers, offering recyclable alternatives upon request only, and has increased its use of compostable, recyclable, or recycled content packaging for to-go food containers.
Meanwhile, the State of California passed a bill in October stating that all hotels state-wide must phase out mini bottles. Hotels with more than 50 guest rooms must comply by 2023, while smaller properties have until 2024. There will be a $500 penalty for a first-time violation, followed by $2,000 for any subsequent offenses.
While larger hotel chains are moving towards refillable dispensers, it’s unclear how California hotels will react — as there is nothing in the new law stipulating replacements. Some could choose to not supply any product at all or attempt to monetize by selling amenities in their gift shops.
Questions have also been raised about the quality of the large-format replacements. For many travelers, high quality conditioner is a must — and is harder to find in the typical hotel refillable dispenser. Will hotels continue to partner with brand names to provide bulk refills? Only time will tell.
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