Going plastic-free; one hotel group leads the way
We all know that plastic is killing our planet. Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans; microplastics have been found embedded deep in the Arctic ice; and it’s estimated that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the world’s seas could weigh more than the entire fish population. Much of this waste has been driven by ‘single-use’ items, in particular, plastic drinks bottles.
Now, while this is all very doom and gloom, steps are being taken to help fight the plastic. On the most basic level, this includes my kids now refusing to use plastic straws. On a larger scale, in December 2017 nearly 200 countries signed a United Nations agreement to eliminate plastic in the sea. More recently, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to introduce a plastic-free aisle in one of its supermarket chains.
Another story that has us cheering from the sidelines is news that the Iberostar Group is going plastic free. The hotel group have launched a bold campaign to remove plastics from its hotels and have pledged that, by 2019, more than 110 of its hotels will be free of single-use plastics. The initiative is part of the group’s ‘Wave of Change’ movement and will start this summer with the group’s 36 properties in Spain.
So, what are single-use plastics? In our day-to-day lives, these include everything from plastic drinks bottles and diapers to cotton buds and plastic straws. In hotels, they include the bags that hold your hotel slippers, the complimentary toothbrush in the bathroom and the mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Iberostar plans to replace these types of regular hotel products with others made of alternative materials such as glass, compostable cardboard or renewable plant-based items. Plastic bottles will be replaced by refillable water bottles – an action that will prevent the generation of 43 tons of plastic waste in Spain alone!
Going plastic free by numbers
Iberostar will reduce its use of plastic bags by almost 280,000, which in terms of plastic weight accounts for more than 38,000 kg of CO2. This amount of CO2 could save more than 10 million hours of light consumption.
Iberostar will be replacing 1.5 million plastic bottles in its hotel rooms in Spain, thereby preventing 43 tons of plastic waste. The weight of these water bottles is the equivalent of more than 12,000 kg of CO2, which could be used to heat 48 apartments for an entire year.
If all the plastic bottles to be replaced were arranged in a line, it would extend for some 500km, the distance between London and Paris.
Iberostar will cut use of its amenities, such as the free combs and mini shampoo bottles, by 650,000 units, a total weight of more than 800kg of plastic. This is equivalent to 18,000 golf balls.
Iberostar will be eliminating two and a half million single-use plastics from its hotel rooms. This measure will enable the company to reduce the production and use of 175,000 kg of plastics, the equivalent of just under 90,000 tons of oil or the weight of 100 compact vehicles.
Iberostar hotels in Spain will be plastic-free by the summer of 2018 and by 2019, more than 110 Iberostar hotels around the world will no longer have single-use plastic items.
We all know that we need to do more to help save our planet. Initiatives such as this one are a wonderful way to remind us that we can make a difference and to inspire us to do more at home.
Katja Gaskell is a travel writer recently returned to London, U.K. after 12 years of living abroad in Australia, India and Mexico. She's the co-founder of globetotting.com and is a firm believer that you can - and should! - take your kids everywhere. Katja has written across a range of titles for Lonely Planet guidebooks, tested luxury hotels for Mr & Mrs Smith and has contributed to publications including BBC Food, Hotelier International and The Australian.