A year after it pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic, across its portfolio of 33 luxury hotels by the end of March 2021, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has released second progress report highlighting the developments and challenges.

The brand has committed to eliminating single-use plastic across areas including rooms, spa, transport, restaurants and bars as well as offices and kitchens. The focus remains on the elimination of 60 of the most common single-use plastic items identified by hotels which are estimated to make up 95 per cent of the total number of items. Many of these items have now either been eliminated or are in the process of being phased.

So far, the hotels have eliminated an average of 70 per cent of the 60 most commonly used items, excluding supplier packaging.

Items that have been completely eliminated and replaced with eco-alternatives include cocktail sticks, straws, body scrubs, tasting spoons, plastic spatulas and takeaway bags. Plastic water bottles have now been replaced by on-site filtered and bottled water at 12 hotels. Glass and aluminum bottled water will be the standard throughout the portfolio.

Almost half the group’s portfolio has eliminated waste bags in guestrooms. Operational guidelines in F&B and spa are also being revamped to decrease the need for single-use plastic.

Pilot tests have been successfully carried out to trial wall mounted dispensers to replace small plastic toiletry containers. Properties that are unable to mount dispensers will use recyclable aluminum amenity bottles instead.

One of the primary challenges that the group is facing in this process, is single-use plastic packaging employed for goods being delivered into hotels. To resolve this, they are adopting initiatives such supplier engagement, challenging vendors to come up with strategies to reduce the amount of plastic used in delivering goods. In addition, hotels are also sourcing bulk packaged items to limit plastic packing.

In terms of F&B, there is difficulty in sourcing single use plastic free and cost-efficient alternatives to vacuum bags used in sous-vide cooking and cling film to cover food produce.

Besides, the ongoing pandemic has also led to hotel closures and low occupancies, thereby slowing the depletion of existing stocks of plastic products. However, the “We Care” packages for guests include reusable fabric facemasks and are plastic free.

James Riley, group chief executive said:

“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. I am proud that despite the current challenging conditions, our colleagues have wholly embraced this task to deliver on the group’s sustainability responsibilities.”

The group will issue the next report on progress in March 2021.