512.460 INDIVIDUAL PIECES OF PLASTICS A YEAR

Imagine a hotel with 146 double rooms. Each guest uses 6 single-use plastic pieces for breakfast. With a 80% occupancy, this leads to 512,460 individual pieces of plastic in a year. And this is just from the breakfast service of one hotel… 

The example above was illustrated by Travel Without Plastic. For years, this social enterprise is guiding the tourist sector how to reduce single-use plastics. They provide toolkits, workshops and they do consultancy. We are a big fan of their work. Today, we share some successful strategies to reduce single-use plastics and meet hygiene expectations.

Hotel Jakarta, Amsterdam

SINGLE USE PLASTICS IN HOTELS

Many hotels still offer bathroom amenities, food and beverages in foam or single-use plastics. With the Covid-19 pandemic the use of unnecessary plastics seems to have increased. For example door seals or remote controls wrappers. What are alternative strategies? Jo Hendrickx, co-founder of Travel Without Plastic guides you through the following steps:

4 TIPS FOR HOTELS TO REDUCE SINGLE-USE PLASTICS AND MEET HYGIENE EXPECTATIONS

  1. Only provide what is necessary. Less is more. Most customers will bring their own bathroom amenities. Do people need shoe-shine? Or cotton-pads? Remove them or make them available on request.
  2. Embrace refills. Bottle your own (filtered) water and make them available for free or for sale. Choose reusable bottles and wash them daily to ensure hygiene. In addition, you can think of refillable soap and shampoo dispensers.
  3. Don’t just switch to other single-use products. Some hotels replace single-use plastics with other materials. For example, a wooden comb or natural sponge. However, when used only one time this does not reduce the overall waste. So again, ask yourself: is this product necessary? If so, consider alternatives. First of all, prefer materials that can be recycled. Furthermore, pay attention to ‘compostable’ products: are they certified ‘home compostable’ or ‘commercially compostable’? Without suitable composting facilities available, try to avoid these products.
  4. Clear communication. There is a ‘perception’ that single-use is more hygienic. But often the opposite is true. Any product or surface can be contaminated with germs. Try to communicate room cleanliness in other ways. For example in the booking confirmation. Or with a verbal explanation at check-in.

REDUCING PLASTIC = SAVING MONEY

Following these four steps will not only reduce the waste stream, it can also save hotels a lot of money. Curious to find out how much? Or hungry for more tips? Then we recommend you to use the complete Travel Without Plastic guide and toolkit.

​GET IN TOUCH AND FURTHER READING ON REDUCING SINGLE-USE PLASTICS 

BEST PRACTICE: REFILL NOT LANDFILL & JAYA HOUSE

Where do I find the nearest refill station near me? Try one of the free refill maps. Today we shed light on Refill Not Landfill (Refill the world). Refill Not Landfill is a global campaign aiming to reduce single-use plastics, in particular single-use drinking bottles. We spoke with co-founder Christian de Boer, a Dutchman based in Seam Reap, Cambodia.

Christian de Boer
Christian de Boer

INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTIAN DE BOER (C), CO-FOUNDER OF REFILL NOT LANDFILL

RA: Can you tell us something about the plastic pollution in Cambodia?

C: In Cambodia tourism is responsible for 4.6 million water bottles every month. People might think ‘it’s only one bottle’ but together it adds up. Few plastic bottles are recycled.

infographic plastic problem
Infographic plastic problem in Cambodia (Source: Refill Not Landfill)

RA: Oh no! We really need tourists to use water refill stations. And that’s what you are trying to achieve with Refill Not Landfill. How do you operate?

C: Any businesses can register themselves as Refill Station on our website. Individuals can also add venues. First you make a free account and then you can add refill stations. The map tells you where to find the closest refill station, using the Google Earth map. Secondly, we provide reusable bottles. They are sold individually and in bulk for partners. The bottles have a QR-code leading to the refill map.

Example of Refill Not Landfill bottle

RA: That’s great! How many refill stations are mapped already?

C: The majority of refill stations on our map are in South-East Asia. Almost 400 in Cambodia and about 350 in Indonesia. But also in other countries, like Panama and New Zealand. We have integrated our map with refill stations shown in RefillMyBottle. So anyone opening the Refill Not Landfill map will also see the RefillMyBottle stations, and vice versa. 

RA: That is something we as Refill Ambassadors also would love to see. There are so many interesting refill platforms like mymizu and Refill. Imagine they all work together, we can make a bigger impact.

C: Absolutely! We are open for other parties to collaborate with us. 

JAYA HOUSE: HIGH-END HOTEL & SINGLE-USE PLASTIC FREE

RA: We’d like to ask you a personal question. You are a Dutchman living in Cambodia. How come?

C: After some time working in France, Singapore and Vietnam I received a job offer in a well-known hotel in Cambodia. I worked there for a couple of years until starting my own hotel, Jaya House. In the same time I founded Refill Not Landfill together with Dean McLachlan.

RA: How do you combine these activities?

C: All work for Refill Not Landfill is done voluntary (unpaid). Dean and I pay the expenses ourselves. My main job is for Jaya House, a small luxurious hotel, where I work as hotel manager. I am putting our single-use plastic free philosophy into practice in the hotel.

RA: Interesting! Can you give some examples of alternatives to single-use plastics?

C: Guests are provided with filtered water in glass jars. They also receive their own Refill Not Landfill bottle that they can take home. Some hotel managers might be concerned about hygiene. But in all those years, guests never complained about the absence of plastic wrapping. Our staff is well trained and the filters we use are safe. It is in our benefit to keep our guests healthy.

JAYA ORGANICS

RA: We understand, no one wants to have sick customers! What more?

C: We create our own natural skincare products. It is offered as an in-room amenity in glass bottles, and thus reducing the use of plastic. The brand ‘Jaya Organics’ is also available for purchase. Since all is handmade in Siem Reap it’s also creating much needed jobs and reducing the supply-line.

C: Cambodia is a very poor country. We are very concerned with providing jobs to people with disabilities. Two farmers – landmine victims – cultivate bamboo to provide the bamboo straws. Now with Covid-19 it is very difficult but we keep supporting them.

bamboo straw

RA: Let’s hope tourists will visit soon again. Last question: what are your future plans?

C:  I would like to continue our activities on a larger scale. It would be great when a company financially supports refill Not Landfill or incorporate it in their business. And I’d like to see more collaboration between refill apps. Maybe I fail in tackling the plastic problem, but at least I am trying.

RA: That’s the spirit! Thank you for your time and we keep in touch!

LEARN MORE ABOUT REFILL NOT LANDFILL

Inspired by the interview? Learn more about Christian de Boer in this podcast with Alex Chuk (RefillMyBottle).

Do you want to collaborate with Refill Not Landfill or do you have a question for Christian? Get in touch

Note: All photos are provided by Christian de Boer

SEASPIRACY: STOP EATING FISH NOW

We have all seen images of dead sea birds with their stomachs full of straws and bottle caps. Or a turtle entangled by a plastic wrapping. According to IUCN, at least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans annually. Redusing single-use plastics is not enough: the fishing industry needs to drastically change too. What you can do? Stop eating fish. The documentary Seaspiracy explains why.

SEASPIRACY: SAVE THE OCEANS, STOP EATING FISH

  • Industrial fishing has wiped out 90% of the world’s large fish.
  • 70% of macro plastic at sea comes from fishing gear.
  • Plastic straws only comprise 0.03% of plastic entering the ocean.

These are three of many claims made in Seaspiracy. The documentary depicts the fishing industry’s impact on our oceans and marine life. I am shocked!

Seaspiracy is causing a lot of debate. Some people say the statistics are false or outdated. I am not a journalist or fact-checker myself. But I recommend you to watch this documentary. Even if some statistics are exaggerated or wrongly estimated, you still get an idea of the problem. And it provides solutions what you can do as consumer to make a change. Numer one: stop eating fish!

REDUCTION OF SINGLE-USE PLASTICS IS STILL IMPORTANT

Film director Ali Tabrizi also states that a global campaign to ban the use of plastic straws “was like trying to save the Amazon rainforest and stop logging by boycotting toothpicks”. We acknowledge that plastic straws and other single-use plastics is only one part of the problem.

The fishing industry needs to drastically change its methods to catch fish. Sustainable labels like MSC or ASC need to examined. And we as consumers should cut down our fish intake. Many communities still depend on fishing for their livelihoods. Or for food. Therefore, we need to make a transition.

Still, we think refusing and reducing single-use plastics remains equally important. To save our marine life and precious resources. So we as Refill Ambassadors will keep raising awareness. For example where to find public fountains.

Wall painting in Faro, Portugal (source: Refill Ambassadors)

We are curious to hear your opinion on the documentary Seaspiracy. Hurray, please leave your comment behind!