This week, Accor announced its commitment to join the UN Global Tourism Plastics Initiative and to remove all single-use plastic items in guest experience from its hotels by the end of 2022. In addition to its previous commitment to eliminate all plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds, Accor’s new commitment includes the removal of individual plastic toiletry amenities and cups by the end of 2020 and the elimination of all remaining single-use plastics in guestrooms, meeting areas, restaurants, and all leisure activities areas (e.g., spas, fitness centers, etc.) by the end of 2022.
“We are aware of the significant impact we have on our planet and our responsibility to create tangible benefits for our employees, guests, suppliers, partners, and host communities,” said Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO, Accor. “What guides us is the consciousness and social awareness that drives every person who strives to be a good citizen. It’s about being aware, socially conscious, and consistent.”
Single-use plastics are defined as disposable items that are used only once and then discarded. Examples include plastic straws, cotton buds, coffee stirrers, plastic cups, plastic bags for laundry or extra pillows, plastic water bottles, all plastic packaging (e.g., for food, welcome products, etc.), plastic takeaway dishes and tableware, plastic gifts and welcome products (e.g., toiletries, slippers, pencils, etc.), and plastic keycards. The company plans to propose relevant alternatives to plastic for each specific item, considering Life Cycle Assessments to ensure better environmental performance.
Accor hosts more than 120 million guests and serves more than 200 million meals each year. With more than 200 million single-use plastic items used annually in all areas, hotels are already reducing significantly their impact. Several have deployed effective solutions by choosing more sustainable alternatives. For instance, 94 percent of Accor’s hotels have eliminated the use of straws, cotton buds, and stirrers; the remaining 6 percent (mostly in China) will make the move by end of March 2020. Additionally, 89 percent of ibis’ hotels are using dispensers for amenities such as shampoo, and Fairmont has begun incorporating water filtration taps in guestrooms to eliminate bottled water altogether, per new construction and renovation standards.
Several hotels within the group’s portfolio—including Novotel Paris les Halles, Novotel Yangon Max Myanmar, Sofitel Bogota, and Ibis Styles São Paulo Anhem—are advancing towards a 100 percent single-use, plastic-free objective.
Accor also launched a new brand last year, Greet, that incorporates plastic-free into its DNA and has no disposable plastics in guestrooms and other parts of the hotel. Accor plans to open 10 more Greet hotels in Europe this year.
The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, led by the UN Environment Programme and the World Tourism Organization in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, draws a line in the sand in the fight against plastic waste and pollution. Governments and businesses, such as Accor, commit to a set of ambitious targets to eliminate unnecessary plastic items; ensure necessary plastics and alternatives are safely reused, recycled, or composted; and circulate everything used to keep it in the economy and out of the environment.
“Plastic pollution is one of the major environmental challenges of our time, and tourism has an important role to play in contributing to the solution,” said UN Environment Programme Economy Division Director Ligia Noronha. “Through the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, tourism companies and destinations are supported to innovate, eliminate, and circulate the way they use plastics, to advance circularity in our economies and reduce plastics pollution globally.”
“Our efforts do not stop here. We are an innovative group by nature and we continuously search for more areas where we can reduce our impact on the global environment while helping our local communities in their efforts to create a healthier, more sustainable future,” said Bazin. “As we work to deliver on our commitments, we are grateful to our dedicated teams of employees all over the world who share our belief in making the world a better place for our guests, while they are traveling with us and even while they are not.”