Marriott Hotels will eliminate small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash by 2020, the company announced Wednesday. These little plastic bottles that generate a substantial amount of waste will be replaced by either wall-mounted dispensers or larger bottles depending on which of their hotel chains you stay at. Their goal is to implement this change by December of 2020.
Many other hotel chains are making this change as well such as Holiday Inn and the Walt Disney Co. IHG Hotels claims it will eliminate over 200 million small bottles every year by 2021. Marriott hopes to eliminate about 500 million small bottles each year, or 1.7 million pounds of plastic.
Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson has wanted to eliminate small plastic bottles for years. They take a lot of time to clean out in order to recycle. The main issue has been getting large retailers on board to design tamper-resistant dispensers that still look and feel luxurious and that will hold up.
“There were a lot of technical features to this that we had to get right,” he said.
Hyatt Hotels have been testing dispensers in their rooms in the past year. Some Marriott’s in Maryland have been testing out dispensers hooked to the shower wall and have been getting good feedback from customer surveys. Many liked that they were able to use as much or as little shampoo as they needed.
“More and more people have a general consciousness of it,” said Denise Naguib, Marriott’s Vice President of Sustainability and Supplier Diversity. “They don’t want to be leaving half-empty bottles.”
Most Marriott’s will eliminate small bottles by July 1, 2020. Lower-priced hotels will have dispensers or bottles that are hooked to the shower wall. Luxury hotels will have unattached bottles. The bottles hold the equivalent of 10 to 12 small bottles, and all are tamper resistant.
For now, the larger bottles will still be plastic, and Marriott still plans to replace them, not refill them when they are empty. Naguib claims the larger bottles are easier to recycle than the smaller ones.
Many environmentally conscious groups are happy with the moves hotels like Marriott are making to reduce their plastic waste.
“Plastic pollution is an urgent global crisis and the time is now to think ‘reusable’ instead of ‘disposable,'” said Dianna Cohen, co-founder and CEO of the Berkeley, California-based Plastic Pollution Coalition.
California lawmakers are considering banning small shampoo bottles from hotels in 2023. The European Union is banning many single-use plastics by 2021. Soon, hotels may be forced to make this change.
Marriott’s CEO foresees some backlash in the future, just like they received when they banned plastic straws. He is aware that some people like to collect small bottles of shower items from hotels; his own mother used to have a drawer full of them at home.
“Human nature is what it is and we resist change,” he said. “But people understand that this is so much better.”
It may take some getting used to, but this change could make an immense difference in our environment and its overall health.