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Mandarin Oriental eliminates single-use plastic

Mandarin Oriental now uses eco-alternatives to commonly-used items.

Mandarin Oriental is on course to eliminating single-use plastic across its portfolio.

In October last year the hotel group made the pledge to remove single-use plastic by March 2021 and reports that while progress has been made, operations have been hampered somewhat by the ongoing pandemic.

The hotel group operates 33 hotels and seven residences in 23 countries and territories and recognises that single-use plastic usage lurks in all areas of hotels, from front-of-house to offices and kitchens behind the scenes.

Items that have so far been completely eliminated and replaced with eco-alternatives include cocktail sticks, straws, body scrubs, tasting spoons, plastic spatulas and takeaway bags.

One of the most used items, the plastic water bottle, has been replaced with on-site filtered and bottled water at 12 Mandarin Oriental hotels. Glass and aluminium bottles are set to be the standard throughout the portfolio.

Almost half of hotels have eliminated waste bags in guest rooms and operational guidelines for food and beverage and spa facilities are changing to incorporate new methods of sanitisation, food preparation and product storage.

Wall-mounted dispensers to replace small, single-use toiletry containers are being stalled in phases across the portfolio. Properties that are unable to mount dispensers will be using recyclable aluminium amenity bottles. Hotels are also working with beauty brands such as Diptyque to fill dispensers with chemical-free products.

However, fulfilling plastic-free goals has not been without its challenges. Progress has been hindered within the food and beverage area as it has proved difficult to source cost-effective and plastic-free alternatives to vacuum bags used in sous-vide cooking (when food is placed in a plastic pouch and water bath for slow, low temperature heating) and cling-film to cover food.

Hotel closures and low occupancy due to the pandemic have meant that existing stockpiles of plastic products are being depleted much more slowly than anticipated.

Regulatory issues related to on-site water bottling is also slowing progress in the group’s China properties.

“Whilst our ambitious timeline to eliminate all single-use plastic from our premises by the end of March 2021 may have to be adjusted as a consequence of the pandemic, we are making good progress,” said group chief executive James Riley. “I’m proud that despite the current challenging conditions, our colleagues have wholly embraced this task to deliver on the group’s sustainability responsibilities.”


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