According to Booking.com, sustainable travel is becoming the new norm and the majority of travellers (73%) are opting for travel and accommodation alternatives that are eco-friendly.
Plastic is one of the most defining inventions of our time, yet there’s no denying its negative impact on our environment. More than 76% of global plastics produced in the last 6 decades have ended up as waste in landfills and oceans. That is equivalent to 6.3 billion tons of plastics, or 80 million blue whales.
Hotels and airlines find themselves with a unique opportunity to really impact the effects of global plastic consumption as they often provide disposable products at mass scales.
Which major hotels and airlines specifically are leading the charge in sustainability?
- Hilton– across 650 managed hotels around the world, Hilton has committed to removing plastic straws by the end of 2018. At the same time, Hilton has removed plastic water bottles from its conference rooms. The hotel group estimates that this will save roughly 5 million plastic straws and up to 20 million water bottles annually. They also plan to cut their environmental impact in half by 2030.
- Six Senses– one of the pioneers of innovation in this space, Six Senses operates 11 resorts and 31 spas in over 20 countries that bottles its own water on-site to reduce the use of plastic water bottles. They’ve also begun using several alternatives to plastic straws that includes paper, bamboo and lemongrass. As part of their “Earth Lab” initiative, Six Senses has adopted a policy of zero-waste, meaning all materials have a new purpose.
- Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts– announced that all 110 of their hotels would ban the use of plastic straws by the end of 2018, while an estimated 20 percent of the locations are already in the process of switching to biodegradable straws.
- Anantara and AVANI Hotels & Resorts– at the beginning of 2018, Anantara and AVANI announced that they would eliminate plastic straws from all hotels and resorts. It became one of the first of its kind in the Asia region to eradicate plastic straws completely, with a roll-out strategy expected in Australasia, Europe and Middle East.
- Hyatt Hotels– since September 2018, Hyatt Hotels has put into motion an initiative to eliminate plastic straws and drink picks. These items are now only available upon request; however, sustainable alternatives are to be introduced shortly. In 2014, Hyatt introduced its 2020 Environmental Sustainability Vision that included ambitious targets to reduce energy consumption, emissions, water usage and waste.
- Marriott International– revealed that all 6,500 of its worldwide hotels and resorts along with its corporate HQ will be straw-free by July 2019. In total, the company expects to eliminate 1 billion plastic straws each year. In addition, the Marriott group has introduced a new shower-product dispenser system in lieu of providing throwaway shampoo and conditioner bottles.
- Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces– run by Indian Hotels Company Ltd, the Taj Group of hotels is actively working to gradually phase out single-use plastic completely. All plastic wrappers for in-room amenities have been replaced with oxo biodegradable wrapping, while sandwich trays, utensils and straws are now offered in wooden and paper alternatives. The spectacular 72-villa Taj Exotica Resort & Spa on Havelock Island is completely free of single-use plastic and boasts its own water bottling plant, a sanitation treatment plant and a waste disposal system.
- Accor Hotels– set a ban on plastic straws of 125 UK locations which started in June 2018. Instead, restaurants and bars will go straw-free when possible, while paper biodegradable alternatives will made available if necessary.
- The Red Carnation Hotels Collection– the collection of boutique hotels and lodges began banning single-use plastics in December 2017 as part of the company’s “Multi-Year Plastics Elimination Strategy.” They’ve also begun to replace plastic straws and takeaway coffee cups and lids with eco-friendly alternatives made from biodegradable materials. In Cape Town, the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa location has adopted bamboo and cardboard straws, while The Ruben at the Palace hotel in London has opted for pasta straws.
- Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts– phased out the use of all disposable plastics from their properties since April 2019. These include plastic straws, water bottles and cutlery across 43 hotels, 60 spas, 72 retail galleries and 3 golf courses across 24 countries.
- Alaska Airlines– as one of the first charter companies to eliminate their use of plastic straws. In July 2018, plastic straws were banned from all airport lounges, as well as international and domestic flights. In 2017, Alaska Airlines doled out an astonishing 22 million plastic stir straws and citrus picks, which are too lightweight to be recycled and therefore end up in landfills and waterways.
- American Airlines– has already replaced plastic straws with biodegradable alternatives and swapped drink picks in favour of wooden ones. The move towards eco-friendly flatware will continue as stir sticks will be replaced with a bamboo substitution. American Airlines expects to cut down on 71,000 pounds of plastic annually.
- Ryanair– has vowed to eliminate the use of non-recyclable plastics on all aircraft and at their head office by 2023. This will include a switch towards biodegradable cups, wooden cutlery, and paper packaging.
- Thai Airways– has banned the use of plastic straws on all flights except upon by the disabled, elderly and children.
Besides major hotel and airlines, several destinations have also taken action against single-use plastics.
- United States, California – became the first state to implement a partial ban on plastic straws. Dine-in restaurants will no longer be allowed to automatically provide customers with straws. Instead, customers who need plastic straws will have to request them.
- United States, Seattle – became the first U.S city to ban plastic straws and utensils. The roughly 5,000 eateries in the city are being encouraged to eschew providing straws or disposable utensils, or at least to switch to paper alternatives.
- Chile – Chile’s Constitutional Court ratified a bill that bans retail use of plastic bags across the country on July 6. Large retailers will have six months to phase out single-use plastic bags, while small businesses will have up to two years.
- European Union – The European Commission proposed a ban on 10 common items that it says make up about 70 percent of the litter in EU waters. This includes plastic straws, drink stirrers, plates, and more.
- The U.K. – In April 2019, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her intent to establish a ban in her country on sales of single-use plastics, including straws and cotton swab handles.
- India – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his intent to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022. With a fast-growing economy and population of 1.3 billion, India struggles to manage its vast waste stream, and is a significant contributor to global ocean plastic.
- Rio de Janeiro – restaurants, bars, beach barracks, and street vendors in Rio de Janeiro use and provide their customers with straws made only from biodegradable or recyclable paper.
The information for this article was provided by EHL.