Marriott Aims For 33% Reduction In Plastic Waste

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Marriott is on a mission to reduce plastic waste at an epic scale. That is only possible because Marriott uses plastic at an epic scale, and it’s not a goal of becoming 0% plastic, but it’s an effort to be lauded nonetheless.

Marriott is the world’s largest hotel chain. It’s big shift comes will come from eliminating travel-sized toiletries, which should reduce plastic waste by nearly a third. “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,” Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement.

Yes, Marriott announced that it is doing away with those tiny tubes of shampoo, conditioner, and other toiletries that we often take for granted when traveling and often take home with us. These tiny toiletries will be replaced with larger bottles that will be affixed to the walls in the bathroom. No more taking home the little bottles.

Marriott plans to have this change completed by December of 2020 at most of its 7,000 hotels worldwide. “It’s about 1.4 million rooms,” said Sorenson. “We’ve got to make sure we get the tamper-proof and other bits of this right so that it can be reliable, safe, and that we can recycle these larger bottles that we use,” he said in a CNN interview with Richard Quest.

Quest asked an important question: “How are you going stop people from stealing the larger bottles?”

Sorenson explains that many brands can have them affixed in some way that’s easy to use but hard to remove, and then explains why this initiative is important to him. When he moved his mother, who lived through the Great Depression, from a townhouse into an independent living arrangement, he found a full drawer in her bathroom full of the hotel soaps. They were mostly Marriott branded soaps, but what moved him was the fact that they were never used.

Many people take them and don’t use them. Some may use them and then throw them in the trash. Many use only small portions of the small bottles (one or two washes) before they get tossed. Not only would this move save money by reducing all of the waste and unused products, but allowing Marriott to keep and be sure to recycle the bottles is also a win for the environment.

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In the CNN interview, another question was asked about the wider issue of sustainability. The airline industry has come under fire for the perception of not doing enough, and Quest pointed out that hotels could be next, then asked, “I suspect you’re next in the firing line for ‘Are you doing enough?'”

“There’s always that, and by the way, we will always be able to do better. This is a journey that doesn’t have a final destination in a sense. Every year we are looking at new opportunities,” Sorenson replied.

Sorenson explains how he worked with Marriott’s paint suppliers to use only low-volatile organic compound paint, and an arrangement was made that benefited both companies. Low VOC paints contain 50 grams or less of volatile compounds. These compounds are carbon-containing substances that easily become vapors or gases. These are often found in paints, cleaning supplies, and coatings. They can cause respiratory and other health problems if used indoors.

Sorenson said Marriott also intends to reduce the amount of stuff they send to the landfill by 45% by 2025.

How Can You Reduce Plastic Waste With Your Hotel Toiletries?

If you go to a hotel and use these small toiletries, you may feel a bit guilty about that. How about some ideas to maximize their use?

You could put them in your guest rooms, and as they eventually become empty, can just refill them for reuse. You may need them at times while traveling — and could even bring them, refilled, to other hotels so that you don’t have to open new ones. You could keep them in your car for on-the-go use — sometimes a public bathroom may be out of soap, so having your own could be a happy relief.

If you’re the creative type, you can use the empty bottles for your own soaps and lotions that you could make and sell, perhaps offering a discount to customers who return a plastic bottle. Lush Cosmetics does this with its lotions — when you bring back 5 empty containers, they give you a free face mask.

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider