California has banned all single-use plastic toiletries from its hotel bathrooms

It’s the first US state to pass the bill – but some UK hotel chains are already getting in on the action with clever sustainable initiatives

California has announced it’s banning all single-use plastic bottles from its hotel bathrooms by 2023, in the first bill of its kind, with fines imposed for those that don’t comply.

‘Single-use products like those tiny plastic bottles commonly provided in hotel rooms represent a sizable amount of waste that can be easily eliminated through more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives. We have reached a tipping point for action… and given our state’s large presence in tourism, this will be a model for the nation,’ said Assemblymaker Ash Kalra, according to Hotel Business.

The rule will apply to all lodgings with more than 50 rooms – those with less than that must abide by 2024.

While there’s been no word from the UK on whether it’ll follow in California’s footsteps, hotels over here have been paving the way with their own sustainable initiatives.

The InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) – that owns Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza – has pledged to remove all mini toiletries from its bathrooms by 2021.

The Marriott chain of hotels has also announced it’s replacing its single-use minis with larger, pump-topped bottles that house the equivalent of 10-12 miniature versions. Once fully implemented, the programme is expected to prevent a staggering 500 million bottles from going to landfills annually.

Premier Inn, Travelodge and easyHotel also use wall-mounted dispensers instead.

If you’re already mourning the demise of dinky toiletries, bear in mind it’s not just how they’re packaged but the way they’re disposed of, too. Most of us would shudder at the thought of putting our pizza boxes and wine bottles in the ordinary waste bin at home with an impressive 90% of packaging getting recycled in our kitchens. 

Over in our bathrooms, though, that figure drops to a meagre 50%, according to Recycle Now. And in the bubble of a hotel room? It’s undoubtedly even lower with many of us slinging our tiny bottles into the single bedside bin without thinking twice about where they’re next headed.

It’s this issue of hotel toiletry disposal that’s fuelled the launch of CleanConscience – a charity that collects hotels’ partially used toiletries.

The Ritz London, The Dorchester and Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair are already partners with the charity processing their leftovers in a number of different ways. Some minis are decanted and repackaged in large containers then given to those in need. Others are emptied and recycled while soap bars can be re-purposed as soap powder and sent to a women’s project in Sierra Leone. 

And if your next hotel’s not having a pint-sized toiletry clampdown? You can do your bit by overhauling your own travel bag. Clean Natured Travel Toiletry Bottles Set, £15 for three, can be refilled and are made from sturdy lightweight glass. Lush also offers solid bar versions of everything from shampoo to conditioner – stash one in the handy Lush Round Tin, £2.50, to keep it fresh on the go. 

Main Image: Unsplash

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