6 Ways for Hospitality Businesses to Reduce Plastic Waste

The hospitality business is a huge source of single-use, disposable plastic waste such as straws, cups and lids, plates, takeaway boxes, water bottles, and laundry bags. The list is long, and these items are filling landfills with waste that can take a thousand years to decompose.

And as we all know, despite our best efforts, plastic waste is still ending up in our oceans and destroying wildlife. However, with some simple operational changes, plastic waste can easily be reduced. Here is some inspiration for your hospitality business:

Plastic Straws

Plastic straws are one of the most commonly found single-use plastic items in the ocean that are causing huge damage to marine life. Your hospitality business can make a big difference simply by not automatically including plastic straws and stirrers in drinks.

For in-house drinks, use reusable bamboo, glass or stainless-steel straws. You could provide paper straws with take-out drinks if the client requests one.

Image from    Unsplash

Image from Unsplash


Equip your kitchen with utensils which are made from renewable materials instead of plastics. Use ceramic, metal or wooden bowls to serve meals, with metal cutlery and glass receptacles for drinks and desserts.

Hotels can use refillable soap, shampoo and hand cream dispensers instead of individual plastic bottles. Use good-quality, durable glasses, cups, and other utensils in your rooms instead of disposable ones – and don’t wrap them up in plastic. Simply store them face down to keep them clean.

Implement laundry bags made from biodegradable materials and encourage clients to reuse their towels and not request linen changes for multiple-night stays.

Image from    Unsplash

Image from Unsplash

Ecological alternatives

Thanks to the advances in technologies and increasing awareness, new plastic-like materials are being created and improved every day. These new materials are made from renewable resources which offer many of the same properties as plastics but decompose at a much faster rate.

Using ecologically-sourced bamboo is a common alternative to disposable plastic cutlery. Other alternatives to plastic are currently being produced from paper, wood, fungi, algae, potatoes, and pineapple leaves, among other recyclable materials.  You can also find polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) polyesters - a type of biodegradable plastic made from polypropylene.

Investigate the options of eco-friendly products that will best replace your current plastic products. These products may cost a little more, but you may be surprised to discover that many of your clients will pay more to support your ecologically sustainable business.

Buy local

Cut down on the plastic packaging that comes with your food supplies by sourcing directly from local producers. Buying in larger quantities directly from producers reduces the amount of packaging needed. Take along your own reusable receptacles in which to transport the products. This way, you will be supporting local farmers, offer fresher food, reduce unnecessary packaging, and reduce your carbon footprint through a shorter travel distance.

Image from    Pxhere

Image from Pxhere


Set up an efficient recycling program. While most hospitality businesses do basic recycling as required by local directives, there are many more types of plastics and other packaging that can be recycled if they are correctly identified, sorted, and collected.

Educate your employees to separate all kinds of substances which can be recycled and compost your food waste. Different types of plastic containers are identified by distinct marks and should be sorted into classes. Check out your local council website or research nearby recycling centres to check which plastics are accepted for recycling in your neighbourhood.

Food containers such as Tetra Briks and some kinds of plastic food packaging can also be recycled. You can even find recycling companies that collect waste food from other businesses, remove the packaging, and recycle it as animal feed or other useful products.


Make your hospitality business a leader in raising public awareness of the plastic problem. Promote pro-environmental activities such as clean-ups at beaches and rivers or tree-planting days. Becoming a pioneer in the protection of our planet will boost your business reputation, help educate others about the importance of reducing plastic use, and leave a better legacy for the generations to come.

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Author bio

Cloe Matheson is a New Zealander and freelance writer who loves inspiring positive changes through her articles.  She believes that living an eco-friendly lifestyle goes beyond new buying habits – it’s a renewed way of living with the earth and future generations in mind. Discover more of Cloe’s articles on her blog.