When I toured the Marriott Innovation Lab earlier this year, one of the items on its vision wall was an impressive array of large, refillable shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel bottles and wall-mounted containers. Today, Marriott International announced that it is putting those refillable containers in all of their 7,000 hotels in 131 countries. The chain will eliminate those plastic bottles (or as my grandmother called them, free souvenirs) to help rid the world of plastic waste. It expects to eliminate one source of plastic pollution from its many, many hotel rooms worldwide by December 2020.
Banning single-use plastic shampoo bottles is an expansion of Marriott International’s work eliminating single-use shower toiletry bottles in five of its brands: Courtyard by Marriott, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, Fairfield by Marriott, and TownePlace Suites. Four of Marriott International’s brands (Aloft Hotels, Element by Westin, Four Points, and Moxy Hotels) have swapped out minibottles for large pump dispensers, which hold as much as 10 to 12 tiny, single-use bottles can. A fifth hotel brand (AC by Marriott) has already started making the change.
Now, those tiny shampoo bottles will be disappearing across all 30 of Marriott’s brands. The hotel group estimates its efforts will eliminate about 500 million small bottles each year, or 1.7 million pounds of plastic. Since plastic is scarcely recyclable anymore, that is a lot of plastic being eliminated from landfills and incinerators.
Marriott’s move follows a similar announcement last month by IHG, the hotel group that owns Holiday Inn, Kimpton, and other brands. IHG said it will eliminate about 200 million tiny bottles each year by 2021. Last year, the Walt Disney Company said it would replace small plastic shampoo bottles at its resorts and on its cruise ships in a bid to cut down its plastic footprint.
It’s a good business move since consumers are increasingly thinking about their plastic use across the travel industry, and countries, cities, and mountains are banning single-use plastics. This lets hotel groups get out ahead of a growing concern and generate some goodwill along the way.