French hotel giant Accor has pledged to remove all single-use plastic items from guest-facing experiences by 2022.
The group which has 5,000 hotels across 39 brands worldwide, said that becoming a signatory to the UN Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is "a significant step forward for the global hospitality industry".
Following its previous commitment to eliminating all plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds from its hotels, today's announcement is focused on removing all individual plastic toiletry amenities and cups by the end of 2020. During 2021 and 2022, Accor will then take steps to eliminate all remaining single-use plastic items such as laundry bags, water bottles, packaging for welcome gifts and food items, and keycards in bedrooms, meeting areas, restaurants and leisure areas such as spas and gyms.
In their place, refillable dispensers will be used for shower gel and shampoo, pencils will replace pens and paper packaging will be used in place of plastic. Testing is being undertaken to find an alternative to plastic water bottles, with glass bottles, jugs and dispensers considered.
Chris Cahill, deputy chief executive and chief executive of hotel operations for Accor, is overseeing the group-wide initiative. He told The Caterer that the company is working hard to source alternative products to single-use plastic. "We are very optimistic that we will achieve our goals as suppliers are increasingly environmentally conscious and are coming to us with substitutes to plastic."
Cahill admitted that there will be greater challenge for hotels in some parts of south Asia and Africa to achieve the pledge as a result of accessibility to alternative products, but stressed that the 290,000 employees were fully engaged in the programme. "There is a huge amount of interest, energy and passion for environmentally issues among the team."
All 39 Accor brands will be involved in reducing its use of single-use plastics from its budget brands such as its Ibis to its luxury collections such as Fairmont and Raffles.
Accor's ambition to rid its hotels of single-use plastic front of house has gone a step further than the announcement last year by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) to get rid of all miniature bathroom toiletries across its portfolio of 5,600 hotels.