Marriott International announced a plan to remove disposable plastic straws and plastic stirrers from more than 6,500 properties across 30 brands globally by July 2019. The company says the move could eliminate the use of more than 1 billion plastic straws annually and about a quarter billion stirrers.
The plan for next summer gives hotel owners and franchisees time to go through their existing plastic straw supply, identify alternatives, and educate staff, according to Marriott International. Hotels will begin offering alternative straws upon request, the company added.
“Removing plastic straws is one of the simplest ways our guests can contribute to plastic reduction when staying with us — something they are increasingly concerned about and are already doing in their own homes,” said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International. “We are committed to operating responsibly and, with over one million guests staying with us every night, we think this is a powerful step forward to reducing our reliance on plastics.”
Eliminating plastic straws will help support Marriott International’s Serve 360 initiative to address social, environmental, and economic issues. This year that sustainability roadmap, developed in partnership with Ecova, won an Environmental Leader project of the year award.
Starting in February, more than 60 Marriott hotels in the UK eliminated plastic straws and started offering alternate ones upon request, the company says. Other hotels have already eliminated straws, including the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London, the Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort in Costa Rica, the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Florida, the Four Points by Sheraton Brisbane, and the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa.
Plastic straws have stirred up a lot of trouble for food, beverage, and hospitality brands. The single-use product never decomposes, and can easily end up in waterways. Last year the watchdog organization As You Sow took aim at McDonald’s with a petition against the chain’s plastic straw use. In June, McDonald’s announced a transition away from the straws. Recently Starbucks vowed to ditch plastic straws, relying on a specially designed recyclable plastic lid instead.
For Marriott International, eliminating straws also represents a new opportunity to connect with customers. “Our guests come to stay with us to enjoy Maui’s beautiful environment and incredible marine life, so they’re as eager as we are to reduce harmful pollution,” said Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa general manager Tetsuji Yamazaki. “By eliminating plastic straws, we have been able to create a substantive dialogue with our guests about the importance of protecting the ocean and endangered animals like the honu [green sea turtle].”