IHG commits to global phase-out of plastic straws

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced that it will remove plastic straws from its global estate of more than 5,400 hotels by the end of 2019.

IHG has already removed plastic straws from almost 1,000 hotels across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. It is estimated that IHG will eliminate around 50 million single-use plastic straws from its estate, once they have been completely removed next year. The single-use items will be replaced with biodegradable alternatives at a later date.

The company’s chief executive, Keith Barr, said: “IHG is in almost 100 countries and we touch the lives of millions of people each day. This gives us a responsibility to protect the environment and an opportunity to make a real difference. There is always more we can do to minimise waste, but the work we’re doing to reduce single-use plastic is a powerful example of how we can come together with guests, owners and colleagues to drive positive change.”

Plastic straws have been targeted by numerous firms in the hotel, retail and hospitality industries as a product that can be phased-out in the short-term.

At a policy level, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that a consultation will take place later this year to prepare England for a national ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds. More broadly the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan pledges to eliminate all “avoidable” plastic waste by the end of 2042 – including the 8.5 billion plastic straws that are thrown away each year in the UK.

Amenity opportunity

There are more than 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans and IHG is introducing steps to reduce the amount of plastic it is using. The Group is introducing bulk-size bathroom amenities to several hotel brands in the Americas that replace miniature bathroom amenities.

IHG has also worked to reduce the amount of soap going to waste across the Americas and Asia. Through collaborative partnerships with regional organisations, IHG has recycled nearly 200,000kg of soap into new bars for redistribution to communities who need it the most.

The resource drive forms part of IHG’s Green Engage system, which offers specific guidance for waste management across different regions. To hear more about the Green Engage system, listen to edie’s Green Room podcast interview with IHG’s vice president for global corporate responsibility Kate Gibson.

Matt Mace

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