As concern for the health of our planet grows, individuals, companies and governments are taking a hard look at finding ways to reduce single-use plastic waste where possible. While some hygiene segments, like healthcare and food processing, have a myriad of complex regional, national and international regulations that complicate the elimination of single-use plastics for certain products, there is a growing list of products where more sustainable alternatives can have a significant impact.
An example of this can be seen in the hospitality and hotel industry. Each year, billions of mini-shampoo and personal care bottles are disposed – often only partially used. As a result, pressure from customers, government agencies, and the private sector is mounting to standardize alternatives to these products.
The response to single-use plastics in the hospitality came from the state government of California in early 2019. The state committed to ban so-called mini-amenities bottles from all Californian hotels by the end of 2023. Hotels are encouraged to use larger multi-use bottles, or dispensers that are mounted to shower walls.  Though this particular legislation specifically aims to eliminate single-use amenities bottles, it reflects efforts from governments around the world to reduce the impact of single use plastics.
The Canadian and Indian governments, along with the European Union, have all made commitments to reduce or completely eliminate the use of single-use plastics, where possible. Among the items specifically targeted are plastic shopping bags, straws, cutlery, plates, stir sticks, EPS food and beverage containers, and all products made from oxo-degradable plastics.   Though the hospitality sector has not specifically been mentioned here, the clear trend toward reducing plastic consumption provides an opportunity for the private sector to incorporate more sustainable practices before it is mandated.
With international attention for this issue growing, it is likely that government intervention on this issue will increase over the next few years.
Private Sector Response
The drive for change at the government and consumer level has not gone unnoticed by the private sector. Alongside their existing efforts to keep up with eco-trends, many companies are setting their sights on a reduction of plastic waste.
The world’s largest hotel chain, Marriott, has made the commitment to eliminate the use of small shampoo bottles from all of their 7,000 plus hotels worldwide by December 2020. By their own estimations, the Marriott Hotel group disposes about 500 million amenities bottles every year.  Similarly, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in the UK, will remove all small plastic toiletry bottles from its 843,000 rooms by 2021, taking nearly 200 million bottles out of waste streams each year. 
Efforts by these companies reflect a significant market shift in the hygiene industry. Suppliers and partners of this industry must adapt quickly to this changing landscape.
On the surface, initial consumer reactions to these announcements appear to be split on the ban of small bottles from hotels. Some guests feel entitled to take home sample bottles of the products they enjoyed, while others prefer the hygienic advantages of single-use bottles. On the other hand, those who are environmentally conscious welcome large bottles and mounted dispensers.
Denise Naguib, Marriott’s Vice President of Sustainability and Supplier Diversity, said Marriott received a positive response from guest surveys regarding bigger bottle and mounted dispensers as guests found that they could use more product than the mini bottles offered.  In the coming years, consumers will see more dispensers integrated into their rooms, and the industry appears to be confident that their eco-friendly stance will have a positive impact on their business.
While mass adoption of alternatives to single-use shampoo bottles still lies ahead of us, the changes are all but certain. OPHARDT Hygiene is committed to sustainability and will launch a new hotel amenities dispenser that will help hoteliers transition from mini bottles to refillable or multi-use cartridges . OPHARDT offers many other sustainable options, including products featuring post-consumer recycled plastics, bio-based plastics, and long-life stainless steel and aluminum pumps and dispensers. For more information on OPHARDT’s sustainability activities and initiatives, please visit our website here.