IHG Hotels & Resorts announced a new collaboration this week with Unilever to replace travel-sized toiletries with a less wasteful alternative. Rather than replacing amenities after every guest, Dove (Unilever’s biggest brand) will provide hotels with full-size products that can be refilled as needed.
With widespread American brands like Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, avid hotels, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites involved in the deal, IHG is expecting a massive reduction in single-use plastic. They estimate that this partnership will save at least 850 metric tons a year.
Yasmin Diamond, executive vice president of global corporate affairs at IHG, said in a statement, “Transitioning to bulk amenities across our global estate was one of our first significant steps towards eliminating single-use items throughout the guest stay by 2030. We’ll continue to find innovative solutions for operating more sustainably to deliver our purpose of True Hospitality for Good.”
IHG has been phasing out miniature toiletries in its properties since 2019, when it was the first company to promise their removal. A similar partnership to the one with Unilever was formed in December 2021 with European luxury cosmetics brand Byredo, in which InterContinental Hotels & Resorts received large, reusable shower amenities throughout Europe. The program took effect earlier this year, offering refillable bottles of hand wash, body lotion, body wash, shampoo and conditioner.
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Many Roads Lead to Sustainability
Efforts to reduce single-use plastic are only a small part of the sustainability goals set by IHG. Journey to Tomorrow, their multi-pronged approach to becoming a more globally conscious company, follows many of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The program has several categories of goals, including diversity, community, carbon and energy, waste reduction and water conservation. When it comes to managing waste, IHG has three goals to meet by 2030:
- Eliminate single-use items entirely, or substitute them for reusable or recyclable alternatives
- Minimize food waste through a “prevent, donate, divert” plan (prevent waste through planning, donate excess food, divert food from landfills to compost instead)
- Collaborate with other organizations to reuse hotel commodities in a circular program
Specific, actionable goals like those outlined in Journey to Tomorrow are popular with environmentally conscious travelers. An April study conducted by The Vacationer shows that more than 87% of American adults value sustainable travel. Sustainability commitments attract tourists looking to keep their vacations green.
Meeting planners searching for their next venue can look to these same commitments if they want to reduce the carbon footprint of their business trips.
Unilever’s Environmental Goals
Unilever also has a series of sustainability goals that are benefited by its deal with IHG. With a strategy they’ve dubbed the Climate Transition Action Plan (CTAP), the company is focused on reducing the plastic waste and fossil fuel emissions associated with their products.
Broadly, the program aims to redesign products and packaging to prioritize low-emission ingredients, make sustainable choices available to consumers and continue to grow Unilever’s Climate & Nature Fund. CTAP has specific goals to achieve by 2025 as well, such as:
- Halve the amount of new plastic used in packaging, with an overall reduction of over 1,000 metric tons
- Collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells in its products
- Ensure all plastic packaging can be reused, recycled, or composted
- Use at least 25% recycled plastic in packaging
CEO of Unilever International Umesh Shah said about the partnership with IHG, “Unilever is committed to making sustainable living commonplace, and we have ambitious targets across every part of our business. We are pleased to partner with IHG Hotels & Resorts to help extend sustainable living into the travel industry.” He praised the reduction in plastic waste that this deal will produce.
The collaboration between IHG and Unilever is part of the broad trend towards sustainable practices in the hospitality industry. As meeting planners and leisure travelers continue to support ecologically friendly venues, hotels will continue to respond to the need for sustainable travel.