#EcoTravels: Hilton calls time on plastic straws

2018-05-24 09:31 - Kavitha Pillay
Post a comment 0

Global hospitality group, Hilton has taken the environmentally responsible decision to remove plastic straws from its 650 managed properties by the end of 2018.

The decision comes ahead of the publication of the EU’s draft directive on single use plastics, and according to Hilton, it will make the group the first global hotel operator to remove plastic straws from all managed hotels around the world by the end of this year. 

SEE: Finally! A green loyalty programme that gets it

The aim is to remove five million plastic straws and 20 million plastic water bottles from meetings and events at Hilton's Europe, Middle East and Africa hotels annually. Hilton says in a statement that when laid end to end, the straws saved each year in the region would exceed the length of the River Seine.

According to the group, the decision to remove plastic straws and bottles forms part of Hilton’s target to "halve its environmental footprint and double social impact investment by 2030".

Hilton also says its goal is to double its social impact investments and cut its global environmental impact in half by 2030, with the help of science-based targets.

ALSO SEE: PICS: Zanzibar's 'greenest' hotel welcomes eco-conscious tourists

"An estimated eight million tons of plastic waste enter the ocean each year, and research projects that plastic in our oceans could triple in a decade. Plastic pollution not only impacts our waters and marine life, but also our food chain and overall health," says the hospitality group.

Simon Vincent, Executive Vice President and President, EMEA, Hilton says that the company has "a huge responsibility to act as stewards of our natural resources, and support the communities in which we operate".

"Through our corporate responsibility strategy, Travel with Purpose, we are constantly looking for new ways to reduce our environmental impact. Extending a ban on plastic straws across our managed portfolio is an important move in the right direction, and one which we are committed to building on in the coming years,” says Vincent.

A sculpture at the Hilton London Tower Bridge depicting monuments dominating the global skyline – the Eiffel Tower, Burj Khalifa, the Gherkin and the Shard. The sculpture is made out of 10 000 Hilton straws, recycled from its UK hotels. (Photo: Supplied by Hilton)

Hilton says that it will remove plastic straws and offer a paper or biodegradable alternative upon request – this will be implemented globally across its hotels by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, as part of its global Meet with Purpose programme to offer socially and environmentally responsible meetings, it will remove plastic water bottles from meetings and events in hotels across the EMEA region.

ALSO SEE: 4 SA stays ideal for green travellers

"With this commitment, Hilton will become the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets to reduce its carbon emissions and commit to sending zero hotel soap to landfill," says Hilton.

Travel with purpose

As part of Hilton’s Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility strategy to further the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the company will also double the amount it spends with local and minority-owned suppliers, and double its investment in programmes to help women and youth around the world.

“For nearly 100 years, Hilton has been driven by our mission to have a positive impact on the communities surrounding our hotels,” says Christopher J Nassetta, President and CEO, Hilton, and Chairman, World Travel & Tourism Council. “In this Golden Age of Travel, we are taking a leadership role to ensure that the destinations where travellers work, relax, learn and explore are vibrant and resilient for generations of adventurers yet to come.”

Hilton’s new 2030 goals include the following social and environmental targets:

Cut Environmental Impact in Half to Help Protect the Planet

  • Reduce carbon emissions intensity by 61%, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)
  • Reduce water consumption and produced waste by 50%
  • Sustainably source meat, poultry, produce, seafood and cotton
  • Expand existing soap recycling programme to all hotels and send zero soap to landfill 

Double Social Investment and Drive Positive Change in Communities

  • Double the amount spent with local, small and minority-owned suppliers
  • Double investment in opportunity programmes for women and youth, including partnering with local organisations and schools
  • Contribute 10 million volunteer hours through Team Member initiatives
  • Double monetary support for natural disaster relief efforts
  • Advance Human Rights capabilities in Hilton’s value chain to eradicate forced labour and trafficking