The past year has seen a wave of media reports on the harm that plastics are doing to our oceans and rivers. People are asking companies some hard questions about corporate environmental responsibility, and some of these companies are starting to listen.
In response to growing consumer concern, more and more hotels are stepping up and banning single use plastics.
A recent TUI Global survey found that two-thirds of holidaymakers are willing “to make lifestyle trade-offs to benefit the environment.”
Sustainability is trending, and business practices are following suit.
International hotels have been criticised in the past for creating excessive amounts of waste. One study from 2005 pointed out that 50-60% of the waste materials in most accommodation facilities could be recycled. Today, it’s not uncommon for hotels to set targets of 100% landfill diversion. Last year even saw a new non-profit organisation emerge, Travel Without Plastic, which assists hotels in developing plastic free strategies.
No longer are hotels lagging behind: instead, some of the biggest hotel chains can be found leading the eco wave.
Here are three inspiring examples of hotels doing their bit to create a pollution-free future.
Six Senses is known as an environmental innovator, across it’s 11 resorts and 31 spas in over 20 countries. They have adopted a zero-waste policy at all their properties, meaning that 100% of any waste generated must be up-cycled or recycled into a useable form.
Water is bottled on site in reusable bottles, all energy is renewable, all straws are made from biodegradable alternatives such as paper, and food waste is composted and used on gardens. Resorts even keep goats (for processing green waste and producing milk) and bees, and they ‘grow’ their own biologically active cleaning products on site!
Six Senses also see themselves as responsible for educating guests, and have installed an ‘Earth Lab’ on each of their sites, where guests can learn about sustainability.
If you thought that going plastic free only works on a small scale, think again. Last year, Marriott International announced that it would completely eliminate single use plastic straws and stirrers from all of its 6,500 properties across 30 brands around the world.
This initiative is just one part of their ambitious new sustainability plan, also announced last year. Overall, they aim to reduce landfill waste by 45 percent and responsibly source their top 10 product purchase categories by 2025.
Marriott is also on a mission to eliminate small toiletries bottles, at more than 1,500 hotels in North America by the end of this year. They’ve already replaced disposable bottles with permanent dispensers in 450 properties. This move will enable Marriott to eliminate more than 35 million bottles annually that typically go to landfills.
Soneva has been pioneering the elimination of waste since the 1990s. One of the first hotels to do so, Soneva banned the import of branded bottled water in 2008. Each of it’s three resorts in the Asia-Pacific operates without plastics. They filter, mineralise and bottle their own water in reusable glass bottles, and each resort has it’s own ‘Waste-to-Wealth’ facility where all waste (including food) is processed for reuse and composting.
Not content with doing their bit on site, Soneva is also involved in a number of community environmental initiatives addressing issues such as water and deforestation. Every year, they raise around USD 90,000 from Soneva Drinking Water proceeds. This is used to fund over 500 clean water projects across more than 50 countries, enabling over 750,000 people around the world to have access to clean water.
Sustainable hotel practices come from the top down.
Hotels are adopting sustainable practices in response to consumer concern. However, change is always in the hands of smart hotel managers who understand their market. In each of the cases above, the shift towards plastic reduction came when executives directed innovative environmental policy from the top down.
At the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS), we are training the hotel managers of tomorrow. By making our practices greener, we aim to set a good example that we hope our students will carry on into their future roles.
Announcing Vegware: the latest BMIHMS initiative to reduce single-use plastics on campus.
The BMIHMS Leura Campus offers residential rooms to students within a simulated, student-run hotel. Students are simultaneously operators and guests of the hotel, so they can experience a fully immersive education. Like any hotel, the campus generates food and packaging waste.
This month, BMIHMS is proud to announce the replacement of all plastic food containers and utensils (including straws, cutlery and plates) with Vegware products. Vegware is a natural, plant-based material that is 100% commercially compostable alongside food waste.
This initiative was sparked by feedback from one environmentally responsible student, who suggested it via a post in the BMIHMS feedback box.
It follows on from several other programs that have recently been implemented, to encourage recycling and reduce the use of single use packaging. The recent installment of bright yellow recycling bags in each student room has also seen a significant rise in recycling efforts on campus.
Several years ago, BMIHMS gifted each student and staff member a Keep Cup (reusable coffee cup) for daily use at the coffee cart, and this continues each term. This program has had huge success, leading to the reduction of recycling waste by up to 1500 take away coffee cups and lids per week.