Accor has committed to eliminating all single-use plastics which formed part of the guest experience by 2022.
The move followed a range of commitments by other hotel groups over the past year, with varying degrees of action.
Accor said that it would join the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Tourism Organisation, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Sébastien Bazin, chairman & CEO, Accor, said: “We are aware of the significant impact we have on our planet and our responsibility to create tangible benefits for our employees, guests, suppliers, partners and host communities. What guides us is the consciousness and social awareness that drives every person who strives to be a good citizen. It’s about being aware, socially conscious and consistent.”
The group will remove individual plastic toiletry amenities and cups by the end of 2020 and eliminate all remaining single-use plastic items in guestrooms, meeting areas, restaurants and all leisure activities areas by the end of 2022.
Bazin added: “Our efforts do not stop here. We are an innovative group by nature and we continuously search for more areas where we can reduce our impact on the global environment while helping our local communities in their efforts to create a healthier, more sustainable future.”
Last year saw IHG announce that its entire hotel estate would switch to bulk-size bathroom amenities, with the transition to be completed during 2021.
Keith Barr, CEO, IHG, said: “It’s more important than ever that companies challenge themselves to operate responsibly – we know it’s what our guests, owners, colleagues, investors and suppliers rightly expect. Switching to larger-size amenities across more than 5,600 hotels around the world is a big step in the right direction and will allow us to significantly reduce our waste footprint and environmental impact as we make the change.
“We’ve already made great strides in this area, with almost a third of our estate already adopting the change and we’re proud to lead our industry by making this a brand standard for every single IHG hotel. We’re passionate about sustainability and we’ll continue to explore ways to make a positive difference to the environment and our local communities.”
IHG had an average of 200 million bathroom miniatures in use across its entire hotel estate every year. The commitment built on IHG’s pledge to remove plastic straws from its hotels by the end of 2019, and a number of broader waste reduction initiatives already in place. IHG remained a constituent of the FTSE4Good Index, and joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 network.
IHG was joined by Marriott International, which was also planning to replace small plastic soap, shampoo, and conditioner bottles with in-shower dispensers at hotels it manages.
The programme was expected to save an average of 250 lbs. of plastic per year for a 140-room hotel – approximately 23,000 plastic bottles.
Arne Sorenson, president & CEO, Marriott International, said: “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.”
In 2018, Hilton announced that it would cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030. Christopher Nassetta, president & CEO, Hilton, said: “In this Golden Age of Travel, we are taking a leadership role to ensure that the destinations where travellers work, relax, learn and explore are vibrant and resilient for generations of adventurers yet to come.”
Commitments included reducing carbon emissions by 61%, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and reducing water consumption and produced waste by 50%.
Insight: The most recent bout of flygskam (flight shame), the Swedish art of making us feel bad about getting some sun to fend of winter rickets, was thought to have contributed to the demise of Thomas Cook and there’s nothing like a high profile collapse to really focus the minds of other businesses, particularly when one business flies guests into another.
Not, one wishes to add, that prior to this the global hotel operators were toasting orphan seals over coal fires while wearing baby ermine slippers. The impact global travel was having on the planet was long sat uneasy in the sector, as the need for more pipeline clashed with the impact of more, well, pipeline. There was some fiddling at the edges – why would you want a clean towel every day, WHY- but now, with Australia’s smoke being smelled in New Zealand and members of Extinction Rebellin superglueing themselves all over public transport, the travelling public’s wallet is looking more closely at its options.
Has this transferred into paying more for rooms which feature bamboo toothbrushes over plastic? Not, we hear, in the corporate sector. But what has been motivating the operators are the investors. More and more are noticing that, if their building isn’t environmentally friendly, it will affect sale value. Likewise what goes on within it.
The operators have realised that it’s not just about a nice logo, buffet options and a loyalty programme. Owners need to see their green credentials. Expect the other major players to have matched Accor’s latest mover by summer.