Hotel toiletries – time for a change?

Guests who travel expect to find mini amenities and toiletries in their hotel bathrooms, even if they are staying at budget hotels. They expect at the minimum a bar soap. Many guests stay at luxury properties and expect to find luxury bathroom amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, lip balm, razors, nail polish, and even a shower cap.

What is the problem?

Plastic waste is at an all-time high in the world. The hotel bathroom facilities are under fire as guests question their environmental impact and the waste generated by thousands of plastic bottles that are used every day around the globe.

Hotels around the globe use millions of bars and bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash every day. Each bar of soap or each bottle of liquid is considered waste if it is only used for 15%. The cleaning staff then takes the partially used toiletries and throws them in bin bags to be disposed of at the landfill.

Research has shown that 95% of plastics used in hotel rooms end up in landfill where they can sit for hundreds of decades. An estimated 5 billion amenity bottles and caps are disposed of by the top 300 hotels worldwide each year.

Not only does more waste increase the problem of landfilling, but it also means higher disposal costs for hotels and makes it harder for them to meet the environmental standards their guests have come to expect.

Many hotels have taken steps to reduce the use of plastics and other wasteful materials, as a result of shocking photos that circulated in recent years.

The destruction of tourist destinations all over the globe has been caused by plastic waste. An earlier this year, Bali’s authorities declared a garbage emergency due to the large amount of plastic waste found along the island’s western coast.

Denise Naguib is vice president for sustainability and supplier diversity at Marriott International. She says that plastic waste is more visible in our community, particularly in the travel industry. “It is much more visible than the microscopic part of the public paying attention, but to everyday travelers.”

What is the point of all this packaging? What does excessive plastic packaging tell you about the environmental responsibility at the hotel you’re staying in?

“Around 5.5 billion amenity caps and bottles are owned by the top 300 hotels in the world every year,” says one of them.

The Solutions

If they wish to offer their guests more environmentally-friendly bathroom amenities, hoteliers have many options. We will look at both the hotel and guest options – both need to be involved in order to tackle this issue effectively.

There are many options available, including dispenser pump packs and bottles made from recycled plastics. One company even offers a goodie bag that encourages you to bring your unwanted items to be reused and recycled responsibly.

1. Refillable Dispenser bottles

Bulk liquid dispensers were once associated with low quality.

No more.

The world’s most luxurious and fashionable hotels combine stylish design with organic liquids that are completely biodegradable and safe for the environment. These include shampoos, conditioners, and body washes.

Many top cosmetic brands around the globe are now offering large-sized bottles of their products for hotels. This is a welcome trend that is growing in popularity and many international hotels and airlines are following this path.

Qantas now offers Aspar bulk dispensers in both their Domestic and International Business Class lounges

The guest can access their shampoo, conditioner, bath, and shower gel using normal-sized bottles that look like those at home. However, the pumps are attached to the wall and fitted with pump dispensers. There are no small bottles that clog the bathroom counter or shower and there are no shampoo bottles or soap bars left behind to go to waste.

Many hotels also report that guests find wall-mounted pumps much easier to use. It is often easier for them to see whether the shampoo or conditioner contained. This can be a problem for some who are unable to read the labels in the shower.

Other hotels have reported that guests love the convenience of the guest toilet liquid dispensers. Bottles and caps that are small can be difficult to open, and they can also be difficult to clean.

Dispensers can offer exactly the same product quality when refilled properly.

Lake House, Daylesford is one of Australia’s most luxurious boutique hotel offers its bathroom products in stylish, large amenity bottles that guests can hang on the wall.

2. Take it with you

Here’s a thought worth considering.

One company has just introduced the “Goodie Bag”, which allows guests to bring their hair and other body care products with them and then finish them off.

The “Goodie Bag”

Let us know what you think. Is it possible to be encouraged to bring the used hotel amenities with you and use the rest of the product? Or, dispose of them responsibly. This not only helps to ensure that plastics can be recycled but it also focuses guests’ attention on the problem and encourages them to solve it.

Learn more about Goodie Bags by visiting

3. Re-Purposing

Some hotels might donate shampoo and soap leftovers to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill. These products can then be donated to companies who will sterilize them and distribute them to shelters or other areas of the world that need them.

back 2 Base – A New Zealand company has created a soap recycling program where hotels can return used soaps to be converted into Bio Diesel or biodegradable industrial cleaners.

15 tonnes of partially-used soaps are being disposed off to begin a new life as industrial cleaning compounds, biodegradable and industrial.

Soap Assistance is an Australian non-profit organization that works to save children’s lives and improve hygiene. It also positively impacts the environment. Their mission is to change how discarded soap is handled and challenge the status quo. Their partnership with the hotel industry allows them to fulfill their humanitarian and environmental missions. They pay a small fee per room for the program.

Soap Aid sorts, cleans, cleans, and reprocesses hotel and other soap bars into soap bars that can be distributed to communities around Australia and the world. They work closely with communities to educate them on hygiene and the importance of using soap.

Soap Aid’s amazing program aims to make a difference in the world’s hygiene practices by saving lives and making sustainable improvements. This is a wonderful initiative. It would be great to have more hotels participate in the program. It could be the difference between a guest choosing to stay or not.

4. Only pay for what you actually need

Surprisingly this option is not readily available. Many countries have made it a practice for consumers to pay for plastic bags that they purchase when shopping. We are always surprised when we find out that extras such as free bags or free meals on airlines come with a price. We adapt and move on. Many guests are happy to pay exorbitant prices for tiny bottles of whisky and packets of peanuts.

This could be an alternative hotel offering. Other than the essentials of shampoo, conditioner and soap, could this be an option for hotels?

5. Bring Your Own

Do we really need tiny bottles for our hotel bathrooms? Most people I know prefer to bring their own hair products, even if they are a tried and true brand. You can’t always be certain what you will get at a hotel or chain so bring your own.

Our recommendation? It will work for both you and the environment if you take control of your own.

What Hotels Can Do

At a minimum, hotels should consider whether packaging is biodegradable and recyclable. If they have excess packaging, look for toiletries that aren’t too bulky or use a simple, recyclable cardboard box. If they can be recycled, facilities will be provided for collecting the packaging and treating it in the right way.

Plastic Use
Many companies now offer products made from 100% recycled plastic, even though hotels insist on using small bottles. They have been treated with EcoPure to increase biodegradability.

The Products Inside
Hotels can choose shampoos, conditioners and body washes when choosing bathroom amenities to provide for their guests.
Parabens are not banned
Banned phthalates are not allowed
Free of petroleum-derived ingredients
Mineral oil is not required
Free of silicon
– Biodegradable, 100% formulations
– Not tested on animals

What Guests can Do

Let hotels know that you appreciate their efforts in reducing plastic waste. Your Trip Advisor review will include your comments, so that the hotel owner can see how important your opinion is about their approach to environmental waste. If all else fails and you are left with half-used bottles, you can take them with and refill them next time.


Intercontinental Hotel Group to Get Rid of Mini Toiletries

InterContinental Hotels Group has announced that it will offer toiletries in bulk-size dispensers to all of its properties by 2021 as part of a push to reduce plastic waste.

According to the company, this will amount to approximately 200 million small bottles per year.

Keith Barr, chief executive, said that the decision was made after the announcement by the company last year to eliminate single-use plastic straws from all its hotels by 2019.

Barr said about straws, “But that’s only a baby step.” “The next most important thing we found out was single-use toilet amenities.”

Brands include Holiday Inn and Kimpton, Six Senses Hotels, InterContinental Hotels, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, Six Senses and Six Senses.

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