In the bathrooms of the Opéra Liège hotel in Paris will be bars of soap that can be used to wash hair, hands and body alike. The bin liners will be made of starch and the coffee capsules of paper.
Guests who ask for help after forgetting to bring their toiletry bags can expect to be given toothpaste tablets and bamboo brushes.
The Opéra Liège is the first hotel in France, and one of the first in the world, to eliminate the single-use plastics that have become so common in the tourism industry. It is likely to be followed by many others as the hotel sector struggles to improve an environmental image long marked by waste and pollution.
Accor, the French group, for instance, has pledged to get rid of single-use plastics in its 5,000 hotels in 110 countries, including the UK, by 2022. It is a significant shift, given that the group discards 200 million plastic items, from bottles to bags, every year.
The United Nations unveiled a plan last month to persuade tourism companies around the world to commit themselves to reducing plastic pollution by 2025. For its part, the French government has introduced a law that will ban single-use plastics altogether by 2040. The first stage will be a ban from next year on the distribution of plastic water bottles at public events.
The United Nations unveiled a plan last month to persuade tourism companies around the world to commit themselves to reducing plastic pollution by 2025.
The 50-bedroom Opéra Liège hotel, which was advised by Racing for Oceans, a French company that counsels businesses on the reduction and elimination of plastic, is to introduce its environmentally friendly policy next month. “Some things were easy, like getting rid of the plastic water bottles,” said Benoît Formet, the joint founder of Racing for Oceans. They had been replaced by refillable jugs and fountains, he said. “Other things were more complicated.”
One difficulty involved negotiating the price of wooden toothbrushes, which can cost up to $24, and toothpaste tablets, which can exceed $22 for a box of 125.
Another was finding a bar of soap that could double as a shampoo. The one chosen for the hotel was developed by HD Fragrance, a French company. It is being touted as an innovation, although it looks like an ordinary white soap.
Wrapped in cotton, the bars will replace the 55,000 miniature bottles of shampoo and body wash that the hotel throws away every year.
The bars weigh 30g and cost $1.60 each, and will last for five showers, according to Mr Formet. “The idea is for the clients to take them home, although we want to end up with smaller bars that will do for just one shower only, so there is no waste at all.”
Among the other changes at the hotel are wicker baskets to replace plastic laundry bags, key cards made of hazelwood, and an end to pens left in rooms for guests to use. Mr Formet wants to replace them with pencils that contain a seed, so that guests can plant them in their gardens when they get home from their travels. “We haven’t quite finalised the details of that, though,” he conceded.
The green items will cost about 20 per cent more than their plastic predecessors, but Mr Formet said the rise represented only about 2 per cent of the price of a room at the hotel, which is about $218 a night.