Say goodbye to stealing hotel shampoo bottles
Luxury hotels are going green as the government tries to discourage single-use plastic toiletries.
After staying at a hotel, 35-year-old Ms. Jung enjoys bringing home the little bottles of shampoos, body washes and lotions, often from such pricey brands as Jo Malone, Molton Brown, Balmain, Aesop, Le Labo and Diptyque.
“It’s nice because I can get expensive brands in mini-sizes,” said Jung. “It’s a big impetus for me to take a 'staycation,' and I’ve even chosen specific hotels because of the amenities they offer,”
Those kind of freebies are on the endangered list. The Ministry of Environment plans to submit a bill to the National Assembly in October to ban hotels from offering single-use plastic items, meaning products in disposable bottles or packages. This includes travel-sized shampoos and conditioners in plastic bottles, disposable plastic toothbrushes, razors and more. The bill will apply to hotels with more than 50 rooms starting next year, and will to all hotels in 2024.
The public has mixed feelings, with some approving for the sake of the environment, other saying they'll miss the freebies. There is a possibility that hotels could be pressured to lower room charges after cutting back on their amenities.
But it's the wave of the future, a survey shows. According to a survey of 600 people between ages 15 and 40 conducted by Univ Tomorrow’s Research Laboratory for the Twenties, 71 percent of respondents said they would prefer to patronize eco-friendly companies if other factors such as prices are equal.
With the legislation very likely to be passed, hotels are making preparations.
Lotte Hotels & Resorts' Lotte City Hotel and L7 Hotel branches stopped stocking mini shampoos, conditioners and body lotions in June. The products were replaced with multi-use pump bottles. To reduce worries by guests of having to share such products with previous visitors, the hotel said the bottles can’t be opened or tampered with.
Last month, Kolon’s hotel chains, Kolon Hotel and Hotel Cappuccino, replaced single-use bath products with products in multi-use pump bottles. The bottles are made from 100 percent recycled plastic.
Some hotels are continuing to offer single-use products but packaging them with eco-friendly materials. The toothbrushes at Glad Hotels are made of bamboo rather than plastic. Ananti Hotel’s branches offers shampoo and conditioner in solid bars wrapped in biodegradable paper. Seamarq Hotels offers theirs in a plastic bottle made of renewable biomass.
But the government wants hotels to phase out single-use products completely.
“The important part of the bill is that it plans to eliminate all disposable waste,” said an official from the Environment Ministry’s Resources Circulation Policy Division. “There is a high possibility that providing disposable single-use products for free will not be allowed at all even if eco-friendly materials are used.”
The official added that the bill will not prevent visitors from buying toiletries or products in single-use containers. It only prevents hotels from giving them for free.
Some hotels are going further in eco-conscious choices. The Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas' key cards are no longer plastic: they are made of bamboo. Hotels run by Lotte Hotels & Resorts no longer offer plastic bags, but will give guests paper bags. Food containers from its restaurants and cafes have been replaced with paper boxes.
“Even if the bill passes the National Assembly within this year, it could take about another year for it to be actually implemented,” said another spokesperson for the Environment Ministry, referring to a possible grace period. “We will talk with companies manufacturing the travel-sized toiletries, consumer groups and hotels and decide on a time which the companies can follow the changes."
BY LEE SO-AH, LEE TAE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]