California bill seeks ban on disposable plastic hotel bottles
First it was plastic grocery bags, then plastic straws. Now there is a bill calling for the removal of those small plastic bottles of shampoo and other products you’ve been collecting forever from hotel rooms.
State Assembly member Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, in February introduced Assembly Bill 1162 that would require all lodging establishments to ditch the small plastic bottles from their guest rooms by Jan. 1, 2023.
It applies to properties with more than 50 rooms, and a year later for those with 50 rooms or less.
The bill has passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee and now is headed to the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Lynn Mohrfeld, president and CEO of the California Hotel & Lodging Association, an industry group with more than 1,550 members representing more than 182,000 guestrooms.
“The industry is going this way and this bill kind of tapers in with what some of our more progressive partners in the industry are already doing,” Mohrfeld said. “So it will have everybody doing the same thing.”
Under the bill, hoteliers can provide large dispensers that attach to a shower wall, or plastic bottles that hold a minimum of 6 ounces, Mohrfeld said. He noted most hotels’ small bottles currently hold somewhere between 1.75 ounces and 3 ounces.
Should the bill become law, lodging establishments not in compliance could face fines, from a citation to up to $2,000 annually.
Mohrfeld worked closely on the bill with Kalra, and pushed for a longer lead time that resulted in the three-to-four-year timeframe.
“We have to set expectations,” he said, both to allow for the industry to make an orderly transition and for customers to adjust. “One of the biggest things is guest perceptibility.”
Hotels in the North Bay are either making plans or have already made the change.
For example, The Sandman Hotel in Santa Rosa installed amenity dispensers in its 135 guest rooms last year when the property was undergoing renovations, said Lauren Bodsworth, general manager.
“We noticed there was a lot of waste and plastic from the single-use bottles,” she said. “It made sense to make this change … We feel like it adds another layer to our other sustainability practices.”
The hotel’s other planet-friendly policies include, but aren’t limited to, a linen and towel reuse program, in-room and property-wide recycling, compostable paper and plastic in its food outlets, and energy-efficient lighting, she said.
David Ahern, general manager at Timber Cove, a 46-room property located on Highway 1 in Jenner, said sustainability and preserving Sonoma County’s coastal environment is just as important to the inn as delivering a great experience to the hotel’s guests.
“By providing our guests with in-room bath amenities — shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body and hand wash — in 16-ounce refillable pump bottles, we have successfully worked towards that,” he said.
LodgeWorks Partners, L.P., a Wichita, Kansas-based hotel development and management company, owns and operates numerous hotels under the Archer brand, including Archer Hotel Napa, which opened in November 2017.
“The Archer Hotel collection is exploring several initiatives to create a more environmentally friendly operation — while still delivering a luxe guest experience,” said Cheryl Gilliam, LodgeWorks’ senior vice president, brands and marketing. “Tamper-proof bulk bath amenities and water bottle alternatives are on our short list. This has been on our radar and a priority; reducing our carbon footprint is important to our brand, our guests and many of our associates.”