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.