As travelers become more focused on sustainability, hotel chains worldwide are making changes to align their business practices with the passions of their customers. Some hotels also feel an “obligation to operate responsibly” and are working to reduce “environmental impacts while practicing sustainability in their operations.”
Some of the ways hotels are working to be eco-friendly businesses involve making changes behind the scenes, and other efforts will be noticeable to hotel guests.
As you may have noticed during a recent hotel stay, the mini toiletries of shampoo, body wash, and lotion are most likely gone from the bathroom. Instead, hotels offer full-size pump bottles that can be refilled, which helps divert plastics from the landfill. Once fully implemented, Marriott expects to prevent “about 500 million tiny, single-use, plastic bottles from going to landfills each year.”
Recycling efforts extend to bar soaps as well. Some hotels, including 5,500+ Hilton properties, have “partnered with soap recycling organizations to donate soap to those in need.” This process sanitizes discarded soap that would have gone to a landfill into new bars.
Reducing waste is also a concept in the kitchens of major hotel brands. For example, Hyatt “seeks to donate excess food, and work toward implementing composting streams.”
A focus on less kitchen waste extends beyond food preparation. For example, Best Western Hotels have joined LifeGate's Stay Plastic-less Project. This effort includes a commitment to using utensils made of biodegradable and compostable materials and to using fewer plastic service items, such as cups, water bottles, straws, and bags.
While a significant focus is on recycling or upcycling used goods, equal emphasis is on using less in the first place. For example, Hyatt is exploring the “use of alternative water sources or water recycling.” Simultaneously, they are taking steps that include “upgrading kitchen and laundry equipment” to improve water use efficiency.
ENCOURAGING GUESTS TO PARTICIPATE
To encourage guests to do their part, many hotels provide information and signage to promote the reuse of towels and linens during a stay. Fewer loads of laundry, combined with upgraded equipment yields double-duty results in saving water, plus travelers are contributing to the effort.
Another guest-facing program that that has been implemented is the option to bypass daily housekeeping services. Prior to the pandemic, many hotels offered bonus points in their guest rewards programs in exchange for declining housekeeping services. Some hotels still offer this incentive to guests.
The major hotel chains are focusing on improvement and setting goals for the future regarding water use, carbon emissions, waste reduction, and renewable energy. In many cases, hotels are aligning their goals with the United Nation’s Framework for Sustainable Development.
For example, Marriott set 2025 as a target date for reducing water use by 15%, carbon emissions by 30%, and waste by 45%. One of Hilton’s goals is to cut water use and waste 50% by 2030.