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Marriott hotels are phasing out tiny toiletries in a move to reduce plastic waste

Posted at 8:56 AM, Aug 29, 2019

It's lights out for tiny toiletries.

Marriott International said it will eliminate small plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel from its hotels worldwide by December 2020. They'll be replaced with larger bottles or wall-mounted dispensers, depending on the hotel.

The move follows a similar announcement last month by IHG, which owns Holiday Inn, Kimpton and other brands. IHG said it will eliminate approximately 200 million tiny bottles each year by 2021. Last year, Walt Disney Co. announced it would replace small plastic shampoo bottles at its resorts and on its cruise ships. Many smaller companies, like the five Soneva Resorts in Thailand and the Maldives, have also ditched plastic bottles.

But Marriott's move is the largest so far. The company says it will eliminate approximately 500 million small plastic bottles each year, or about 1.7 million pounds of plastic. Marriott, the world's largest hotel chain, has more than 7,000 hotels in 131 countries. Its 30 brands range from SpringHill Suites and Residence Inn to Sheraton and Ritz-Carlton.

Marriott started replacing small bottles early last year at some North American brands, including Courtyard and Fairfield hotels. About 1,000 of those now feature larger bottles or pump dispensers that are hooked to the shower wall.

Denise Naguib, Marriott's vice president of sustainability and supplier diversity, said Marriott got a positive response from guest surveys. Many were relieved because the larger bottles let them use as much or as little shampoo as they want.

Naguib said most Marriott hotels will eliminate small bottles by July 1, 2020. Luxury brands will get them by the end of 2020. Lower-priced brands will have dispensers or bottles that are tethered to the shower wall. Luxury brands will have untethered bottles. The bottles hold the equivalent of 10 to 12 small bottles. All are tamper resistant.

The larger bottles will still be plastic, and Marriott still plans to replace them _ not just refill them _ when they run low. But Naguib said the larger bottles are easier to recycle than smaller ones.

Soon, hotels may not have a choice. Lawmakers in California are considering banning hotels from using small shampoo bottles in 2023, while the European Union is banning a wide range of single-use plastic items, like cutlery and plates, by 2021.