MVO Nederland interviewed Jo Hendrickx from Travel Without Plastic about the Toolkit they designed for hotels to reduce plastic waste. With a background of 20 years experience in the hotel business and specialised knowledge about reducing plastic waste, they offer practical advice for hotels managers who really want to get started.
Jo: “Reducing or eliminating plastic can feel overwhelming. A lot of hotel managers want to do something but don’t know where to begin, so they don’t. Or they make decisions based on very confusing marketing messages. For example, they invest heavily in bioplastic alternatives only to find out there is no infrastructure for them to be processed properly. This results in commercially compostable glasses, cutlery and other items ending up in landfill, whereas their plastic counterparts could have been recycled.”
“We want help hotels make an informed decision so we created the Let’s Reduce Single Use Toolkit. It includes tools to measure impact, a guidance document with practical advice for all operational areas, training materials for staff and communications materials for customers."
"We help hotel managers to understand how plastic is used in their business, what the associated financial and environmental costs are and we provide them with detailed insight into the pros and cons of all the alternatives.”
“The first reaction from hoteliers is usually ‘how do we replace single use items’ when actually a lot of them could be eliminated without compromising the guest experience. For example cocktail stirrers, plastic glasses in bathrooms, labels proclaiming the toilet to be clean, shoe shine sets in a hotel where everybody wears flip flops.
Our advice to hotel managers is: Choose a top three or top five single use items that could be realistically reduced or eliminated in the upcoming months. Engage key staff with the change, create good customer communications and monitor the impact. Taking the easier steps first and implementing change successfully provides a much better foundation for continued improvement.
There are so many things a hotel can do but we must remember that it is not always as easy or straightforward as we would like. The important thing is to feel comfortable about taking one step at a time. Don’t put off implementing a straw policy because you think it isn’t enough. An average all-inclusive hotel can easily consume over 300,000 straws every year and a straw policy can reduce this by over 90%. If every hotel in the world did this today, it would not only be a significant reduction in waste but a huge step forward in changing customer expectations.
Another example: mini- shampoo bottles. In my former job we held an experiment with a hotel in the Balearic Islands. We removed all miniature toiletries and implemented a polite message informing guests that they were available free of charge in reception. Over the course of a six month trial, not one guest requested toiletries, reducing consumption by approximately 20,000 bottles and saving €5000.
We do charge for our Toolkit; the cost will not make us rich but the return on investment for hotels can be realised in a matter of weeks if they follow our recommendations. We experienced that when the service is paid for, hotels are more likely to implement the recommendations and really engage with the approach. Want to have a preview? Please click here and feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org