Hotel Group Eliminates Mini Toiletries

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InterContinental Hotels Group says it will replace with bulk versions to cut down on plastic waste.

The days of stashing mini toiletries in your bag upon leaving a hotel room are nearing the end. InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns more than 5,000 hotels worldwide across several brands including Holiday Inn, has announced it will be phasing these out in order to cut down on plastic waste. It will replace the 200 million mini toiletries it hands out annually with less wasteful bulk versions.

CEO Keith Barr told the Financial Times, "We collectively as an industry have to lead where governments are not necessarily giving the leadership to make a difference." He also said that investor pressure is a driving force. "Five years ago it was a tick the box exercise. Today it’s follow-up meetings going through in detail what are we doing about our carbon footprint."

A study conducted by Hilton last year found that one-third of visitors research a hotel's environmental policies before booking, and this number is likely to increase as more people express concern about single-use plastics and pressure retailers to take action. Hilton also announced in March that it would collect partially used bars of soap and melt them down to form new ones.

The BBC's Blue Planet II has had a profound impact on shifting the public's perception of plastic waste, driving straw bans such as the one InterContinental committed to last year, saying it would eliminate all plastic straws in its hotels by end of 2019. But the hotel group wants to get one step ahead of its clients, as one analyst told the Financial Times: "Rather than reacting to customer outcry over straws, IHG are trying to be proactive and say that they can use this as a differentiator if they can get ahead on it."

How exactly IHG intends to switch from mini to bulk toiletries is unclear. Perhaps they will install dispensers in hotel rooms; its luxury brands are apparently already offering toiletries in ceramic containers. A more drastic yet logical route would be to eliminate the free toiletries altogether or offer them for sale at the front desk as needed. Fiona Nicholls, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, said,

"Just as shoppers have shown they’re happy to bring their own bags to supermarkets, hotel guests are absolutely able to adapt and start bringing their own toiletries."