In October 2019, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic, across its portfolio of luxury hotels, by the end of March 2021.
While the original timing for completion is likely to be impacted by the global effects of Covid-19, the Group has highlighted both the achievements made to date and some of the challenges encountered.
Covid-19 enables greater sustainability – eliminating single-use plastic
The Group has committed to eliminating single-use plastic across all areas of the hotels.
Initially focusing on 60 of the most commonly used, estimated to make up 95% of the single-use plastic items used at our hotels.
These items have either been eliminated or are in the process of being phased out as current plastic stock is depleted, such as plastic water bottles.
Many of the other most commonly used plastic items have been replaced with eco-alternative materials.
Covid-19 enables greater sustainability – eco-alternatives
Examples of which are: sanitised, reusable cloth laundry bags and shoe mitts – paper, metal or bamboo straws – natural loofahs – wooden spatulas and metal tasting spoons in the kitchens.
Many bathroom amenities have been replaced with sustainably certified non-plastic alternatives, including cotton pads – razors – earbuds – shower caps and shaving foam.
Hotels are also experimenting with wall mounted dispensers to replace small plastic shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner containers.
Covid-19 enables greater sustainability – challenges remain
Challenges remain as some materials, such as cling film and waste bags, are both difficult to eliminate or find truly sustainable alternatives for. However, on-going research in this area means that we remain hopeful that a complete eco-solution will be available soon.
The Group is now widening the scope of its work to identify viable eco-alternatives for the remaining single-use plastic items within its properties.
Hotels are encouraged to choose reusable or unprocessed plant-fibre based eco-alternatives where possible. Eco-alternative materials that prove to be successful will then be introduced across the portfolio.
The next challenge, that was not included in our initial timeline, is an external one – namely the continued use of single-use plastic packaging used to deliver goods into our hotels. We recognise that elimination here may take much longer to achieve, as this is an area that is proving hard to influence. We will continue in our efforts to resolve this through our own Supplier Code of Conduct and ongoing supplier engagement.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has already had some impact on our efforts.
The depletion of our existing stock of plastic products across our portfolio has slowed, and new hygiene protocols and requirements arising from the pandemic pose challenges that may well affect our timeline.
However, we remain committed to our original objective of 100% elimination while recognising the potential for delay in the removal of some items. Work is ongoing to achieve the best results possible across the portfolio and within our timeframe.
Colleagues from every hotel have been working hard to find solutions which can be shared as best practice. Mandarin Oriental is collaborating with its suppliers to drive responsible procurement and provide alternative products that are both viable and suitable for the luxury hotel environment.