Plastic: What can the hospitality industry do to tackle the problem of plastic waste?

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

The use of single-use plastics is all about convenience: plastic is durable, flexible and it addresses hygienic concerns. This is especially apparent in the hospitality industry, as there is a heavy focus on comfort and convenience when providing luxury service or on holiday. For example, hotels offer free toothbrushes and toothpaste which are meant to be thrown out after one or two uses. However, there are also many ways to combat these problems.

Reduce Single-use Plastics

Although it may seem obvious, an easy way to reduce single-use plastic is making these items reusable instead of disposable. Examples of these include banning plastic straws, replacing plastic toothbrushes with bamboo toothbrushes, using plastic-free drinks coasters, and only providing bathroom amenities on request. Simple initiatives like these can have a large impact on current plastic waste, but how can we prevent more waste from being generated in the future?


Circular Economy

The circular economy for reducing waste in the future should be thoroughly considered by the hospitality industry. It is a system that involves participation by all stakeholders (the government, producers, the hospitality industry and consumers). Essentially, when the government enforces stricter laws, such as a Waste Tax, and businesses abide by these laws, it means less waste is being produced. In addition, consumer awareness is necessary, so that people know how to properly reuse certain products, instead of throwing them away. When these efforts are combined, serious action can take place to reduce plastic waste.


  • How the Circular Economy Can Work in the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry has a key role in the circular economy. For example, a great place to start is by promoting and instituting alternatives to plastics everywhere that is possible. One great way to do this is by supplying glass water bottles instead of plastic. This can facilitate the shift in consumer habits, making plastic-free living a social norm. Another way the hospitality industry can help is by demanding and pressuring producers for reduced packaging and less plastics, which can drive the decline in supply. Using suppliers which have a returnable packaging scheme or use less plastic per unit product will greatly reduce plastic waste. An alternative option is using economic incentives to help in the phasing out of single-use plastics. This could be done by charging for single-use bathroom amenities or giving discounts to customers that bring their own bottles and packaging. Lastly, a great way to help can be done behind the scenes. Steps as simple as labelling bins and involving staff in the recycling process through educating them on the process will enable them to see the advantages and be more inclined to recycle, leading to less plastic waste going to landfill.


Overall, there are many ways the hospitality industry, and everyone related to it, can help reduce plastic waste. There are great examples of plastic reduction initiatives by hotel businesses happening right now. For our next blog post, we check out how a hotel group has successfully reduced their plastic waste.



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