City’s luxury hotels finding substitutes for plastic

They are using bamboo toothbrushes, wooden cutlery and stainless steel garbage bins
Last Updated 08 October 2019, 14:55 IST

Several luxury hotels have become conscious about their consumption practices and are doing their bit for the environment.

Last week, the government said it would not impose a blanket ban on single-use plastics in the near future. That means the responsibility now falls on citizens and companies.

Hotel chains across the city have begun eliminating single-use plastic entirely.

ITC hotels have their own<br />bottling unit allowing them to<br />reduce their carbon footprint
ITC hotels have their own
bottling unit allowing them to
reduce their carbon footprint

How to go green

Since plastic plays a big part in our everyday lives, eliminating it entirely is no easy feat.

ITC Hotels, for example, has built an entire team to identify the usage of single-use plastic and possible alternatives. The team has looked at each and every plastic item used in the hotel and substituted them with greener alternatives.

Bamboo toothbrushes have replaced regular ones, plastic cutlery has made way for wooden cutlery, and you now find glass bottles in place of plastic ones. Biodegradable packaging is used for toiletries.

“We have also removed the use of plastic straws, lightweight plastic bags, cling wraps, garbage bags, plastic disposals and plates, takeaway containers, from everyday operations, and have replaced them with eco-friendly alternatives such as stainless steel liners and starch bags,” says Dipak Haksar, Chief Executive, ITC Hotels & WelcomHotels.

The battle doesn’t end with plastic, though. What happens to the large amount of waste generated by hotels?

“We house our own sewage treatment plant, which treats the water used in the hotel and then uses it to irrigate the gardens and greenery which is an integral part of the hotel. We have nearly three acres of lush green open space which we water with recycled and treated water,” says a spokesperson for The Oberoi, Bengaluru.

Switching to LED lights, having an in-house compost plant, using environmentally friendly cleaning agents, and using wind energy are other measures that can be taken up.

Food waste accounts for more than 50 per cent of hospitality waste. When food rots, it creates methane, which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. In fact, if all the food waste generated by the hospitality industry were a country, it would be the biggest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in the world, says a study.

Portion control is how Hyatt Centric has tried to curb food wastage in its kitchens. “A guest can always ask for a second helping. Buffets are often the biggest producers of food waste, as we try our best to serve most of our meals in a set menu format. Even for our buffets, we cook in batches,” says Anum Anjani, marketing communications manager, Hyatt Centric, Bengaluru.

Ecotourism angle

Earlier, few paid attention to recycling, saying it was too time-consuming and expensive.

However, recent studies have shown that guests are interested in sustainability and are even willing to pay more for a sustainable holiday.

Ecotourism is gaining a foothold, and the hospitality industry is more than willing to change its ways to tap into the new market.

Sustainability, in the long run, creates a better reputation and even brings in new clientele. However, it is not without its challenges. From finding alternatives to learning new methods, the challenges are many.

Customers need to learn as well

It is estimated that a single guest can generate up to 1 kilo of waste per day, which amounts to millions of tons being generated worldwide annually. “Getting customers to understand why we have made these changes is difficult. There is a certain amount of resistance, but once we manage to get the message across, they tend to be receptive,” says Sonia Jaitly Banerjee, director of rooms, JW Marriot. Cards inform guests about sustainable practices they can follow during their stay.

Why is this important?

The Indian tourism and hospitality industry has steadily grown to be one of the key drivers of GDP.

This has led to an increase in the number of hotels around the country. While this is great for the economy, it is not necessarily a good thing for the environment. Hotel chains are major contributors of waste generation.

Waste is generated by leftover food, and the extensive use of paper, plastic, and batteries. Energy consumption is high because of round-the-clock need for heating, air conditioning and lighting.

Alternates to plastic

Bamboo toothbrushes

Glass bottles

Bamboo-based cotton buds

Bamboo comb

Wooden cutlery

(Published 08 October 2019, 14:36 IST)

Follow us on