InterContinental Hotels Makes Resource Use Worse By Banning Plastic Miniatures

There is a snide remark to be applied to this story here:

InterContinental Hotels goes to war on plastic by binning millions of shampoo miniatures

How is throwing away millions of perfectly good little plastic bottles filled with shampoo a good thing for the environment?

InterContinental, the world’s fourth largest hotel company, hammered a “stake into the ground” in the war against plastics by ridding its rooms of 200 million miniature bottles of shampoo and shower gel.

That does rather mean 200 million more things that hermit crabs can get lost in, doesn’t it?

However, the snidey part should perhaps be reserved for the Telegraph journalist who wrote the story that way. There’a a more important point to make:

The Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Kimpton owner will switch to larger-sized bathroom amenities across its 843,000 rooms. “The industry needs to do more,” said chief executive Keith Barr. “I’m excited that we’ve done this and I hope that the rest of the industry follows this commitment.”

Do more to solve what problem? As we saw yesterday the problems with plastics in the ocean are about fishing gear. Hotel miniature shampoo bottles don’t come into it – either fishing or ocean pollution.

So, instead we must presume that he’s taking about resource use more generally. Quite why we’ve got to save natural gas – which is what most plastics are made from now – is unknown. You know, given that we’ve apparently so much of the stuff that Britain must remain resolutely unfracked for it.

And if we’re talking about resources more generally, well. So, why did we start using the little plastic bottles in the first place?

It could be just because. Fashion, personal taste, whatever. Guests prefer not to have some else’s pubes all over the soap they’re about to use maybe. But it could also be that having small and portion controlled bottles uses less soap/shampoo etc than giving everyone large bottles of the stuff which are then reused.

No, I dunno either. But at some point, obviously, the use of the plastic bottles becomes cheaper than the greater amount of soap not used. In market economies things that are cheaper using fewer resources overall – that’s how prices work.

Note again, I dunno the answer here. But I do insist the question is the right one. Wrapping a supermarket cucumber in plastic saves resources. Wrapping each grape individually probably doesn’t. Somewhere in between is placcie botts of shampoo in the hotel room. And we can only know whether this is a good or bad environmental idea if we know where.

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Stephen Bayliss
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Stephen Bayliss

Common thing in Nordic countries is a wall mounted dispenser in the shower for shower gel and basic unscented baby type shampoo. Much more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

Surely it isn’t penny-pinching ‘for your convenience’ chiselling just to save money wrapped up as an environmental good by weasels?

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Rather like the notices in every hotel telling you that towels etc won’t be washed unless you dump them on the floor. “To benefit the environment” (and not to save us money at all, perish the thought).

PS I hate shower gel, and I’m pretty sure I use twice as much of it as I do soap to achieve the same degree of ‘clean’.

Mark Magagna
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Mark Magagna

If the new bottles are over the carry-on limit for liquids (IIRC 100ml), they may get fewer guests taking the new bottles.

Q46
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Q46

This might be a TW favourite… Chesterton’s Fence, thing. Why mini bottles in the first place? Because guests take the soaps, shampoo, conditioner, skin lotions with them, towels, clothes hangers, anything removable in fact. That is why hotels switched to mini-bottles to save cost. If they switch to bigger bottles then guests will take these. If the bigger bottles are plastic, they will be replacing big bottles instead of small bottles when guests take them which they are more likely to do as there will be more stuff left in the bigger bottles – therefore more plastic will be consumed… Read more »