Marriott Eliminating Single-Use Toiletries Globally

Filed Under: Hotels, Marriott

In late July 2019, IHG announced that they’d eliminate single-use shower toiletries globally by 2021. While this is no doubt at least partly a cost cutting move, it is also good for the environment, so I’m a fan of it.

I figured most other major hotel chains would follow, so it’s not surprising to see that the world’s largest hotel group has now made a similar announcement.

Marriott Eliminating Single-Use Toiletries

Marriott has today announced that they’re eliminating single-use toiletries (including shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel) in guest rooms globally. Instead they’ll be replacing them with larger, pump-topped bottles.

So far Marriott has rolled these out at about 1,000 properties in North America (mostly limited service hotels), and they expect most of their hotels to make the switch by December 2020.

Marriott says that when fully implemented, this will prevent about 500 million bottles per year from going into landfills, which equates to about 1.7 million pounds of plastic.

Marriott President Arne Sorenson had the following to say about this:

“This is our second global initiative aimed at reducing single-use plastics in just over a year, which underscores how important we believe it is to continuously find ways to reduce our hotels’ environmental impact. It’s a huge priority for us. Our guests are looking to us to make changes that will create a meaningful difference for the environment while not sacrificing the quality service and experience they expect from our hotels.”

In 2018 Marriott made the switch to larger bottles with pump dispensers at Courtyard by Marriott, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, Fairfield by Marriott, and TownePlace Suites. This was in addition to four other brands that already had these, including Aloft Hotels, Element by Westin, Four Points and Moxy Hotels.

My take on bulk-size toiletries

As I noted when IHG made the announcement, this is an area where I’ve evolved over time. In general I’ve not been a fan of hotel groups switching to bulk-size amenities, since it seemed to me mostly like a cost cutting measure.

While I do think it cuts cost, the reality is that it’s also the right thing to do. Toiletry miniatures are so wasteful and unnecessary, even if they are something that some people love about hotels.

So while I’m in favor of this nowadays, I do have a few hopes for IHG (and any other hotel brand that chooses to go this direction):

  • Please don’t introduce worse toiletries just because the labeling might not be as obvious
  • Please make sure housekeepers clean the containers properly
  • Please make sure the containers work correctly, which I’ve found to be a major issue (like a pump being broken)
Comments
  1. This is like coffee cups, in a few years it will seem insane that we where throwing out billions of little shampoo bottles a year…

  2. (1) I bring them home to give out to street-homeless people in New York City. (I also give them my business class overnight kits.)

    (2) I hope they still will have bars of soaps. I really don’t like liquid soap.

  3. I wasn’t sure I’d like this but have stayed at a few places that made the switch and I actually loved it! I wasn’t constrained by the capacity of the small bottles, I had the amount of product I needed, and it feels good to not be contributing to the problem of single-use plastics.

    Whenever this topic comes up, there are two groups that scream against this: 1) Those who worry that the bottles will be tampered with (this has been eliminated by making the dispensers lockable) and 2) Those who are mad that they can’t take the products home to use anymore (that’s not what these are for!). So, if those are the issues then this is a non-issue, because neither is compelling.

    We are killing the Earth and we all need to do what we reasonably can to make it stop.

  4. I hope they can find an effective way to prevent guests opening those containers and putting some other (gross) things in it. I really don’t think those weak plastic “locks” are reliable

  5. @KVM, there is really nothing that prevents someone who puts things into your miniature bottles. If the previous guest did not obviously use a single use bottle, do you think housekeeping really replaces that for the next guest? I bet they just let those stay where they are on the counter for the next guest…IMHO, the single bottles are much easier to tamper with.

  6. @Ben L.

    Oh yeah but at least I can sleep on those mattresses with my pajamas on (at least makes me feel better), while in most cases when you use those toiletries you have to be naked

  7. Reducing plastic waste – great. But not so sure about this. Bodily fluids on mattresses is one thing. But more nefarious tampering could be possible with what are basically now public lotions and soaps. Maybe I will get used to it…

  8. The release is vague as to whether this program is mandatory at all properties. Even if the program is mandatory, I suspect Ritz Carlton and St. Regis properties will have to be excluded.

  9. Actually, read the press release. Buried in it is a line about how Marriott’s upscale brands won’t follow this and will continue providing individual bottles.

  10. Just remember, what you think is shampoo may not be shampoo. It could be a bodily discharge from a pervert.

  11. I totally support the move.
    This is necessary for the environment, and I hope other hotels will follow.

  12. Good, long overdue.
    I’m not sure why but every time this comes up some people drag out the hoary old myth that perverts will interfere with the bulk containers. The chance of that happening is infinitesimally small. And what’s to say that anyone with that bizarre desire wouldn’t do it with the much more accessible small bottles ( I’m sure the ones that look untouched are not replaced by the maids)
    So this is a start. Next they should stop daily linen changes. It’s beyond ridiculous to expect fresh linen every day. Same with towels.

  13. Another issue I have experienced, especially in Europe, is that the large containers will already be 95% empty when I check in. I generally prefer to opt out of daily housekeeping, preferring instead every 3-4 days, which is no issue if there are individual toiletries and several clean towels when I arrive. But when the large bottles are already near empty at check-in, I have to request the daily housekeeping so those will be refilled. Yet half the time the housekeeping still does not refill, either because of inattention or because the fluid level for many of those bottles is difficult to gauge. Many times I arrive back to the room in the evening to discover I’ve been left with the same empty bottle…and housekeeping has already departed for the day. Luckily, I often bring at least one small bottle of my own as a back up, usually acquired from a previous hotel stay, but it sounds as if those contingency bottles will now be a thing of the past.

  14. Straws and now toiletries – whats next. I so thankful Chick-fil-A severs their ice cold beverages in a styrofoam cup with plastic straws instead of a paper cup that sweats all over my gas guzzling SUV.

  15. @tim: If you carefully read the press release you will learn this is NOTHING NEW. There was no concrete expansion of this previously announced move. It is heavily qualified deep down in the press release, saying individual brands will be exempted based on their standards. In other words, CHEAP OWNERS will do this but most owners and most upscale brands probably won’t.

  16. I love miniature hotel toiletries. I can understand not every guest does. Perhaps the hotels can compromise….iniatures for guests who want them. It’s good marketing, I look at the hotel name every time I use the bottle. But I suspect this move is all about cost cutting under the guise of environmental responsibility so such a compromise is unlikely.

  17. @ Nick Thomas – So that conditioner is actually a perverts discharge ? Hmmm…makes sense !

    My comments:
    The press release is oddly worded – initially sounds like all properties, but if you did down it implies the extended stay properties of ” Courtyard by Marriott, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, Fairfield by Marriott and TownePlace Suites. In addition, four of Marriott International’s brands – Aloft Hotels, Element by Westin, Four Points and Moxy Hotels – previously implemented the pump-dispenser toiletry concept, while a fifth – AC by Marriott – is well on its way to making the change…” It does NOT explicitly say ALL brands. So are we to believe that these pumps will be expanded over time to the higher end brands? Very confusing. Regardless of brand – The State of California passed a law this year that will make single-use toiletries bottles illegal. So Marriott International’s higher end brands WILL have to comply. I’m thinking that they will uses this opportunity to garner feedback from guests staying at California St. Regis, Luxury Collection , etc properties and then make a decision to expand worldwide at ALL brands…

  18. I hate liquid soap so hopefully they will keep bar soaps. Although I understand the concern with the plastic bottles Marriott is underestimating the amount of wasted product that will come with big bottles. I find myself using the small bottles very careful since I never know if I will run out during a shower. Yes, I am not the one wasting it but many people will. I also heard people that bring their own big empty bottles and fill it out of the big bottles in hotels. Very low act but people do it. Last, this is a great opportunity for Marriott to really dump whatever generic soap they want into the large bottles and we will have to use it. At least when they used branded products we knew whee they were coming from.

  19. @Paolo – Completely agree about daily bed linen changes on stays of 2+ nights.

    I used to stay at Starwood’s Sheraton and Four Points brands before the merger with Marriott International. I loved their “Green Choice” Option. Some of my stays were 10+ nights. They used to award 500 points for every day of Green Choice. However, after the merger with Marriott Intl, they changed the program. With the new Bonvoy – it’s still 500 points or $5. If you do the math that’s roughly 167 pre-merger Starpoints – hardly worth it. But regardless of that, now there is a 3 night maximum and they have to come in and refresh the room AND change the linens. Getting the points to post to your Bonvoy account is another disaster that usually takes 3 calls to my ambassador. Incidentally, a lot of people think the points are added but in fact Marriott’s IT system doesn’t post – so check your accounts people ! I know Marriott Hotels now offer the Green Choice too…

    Maybe in the future – a charge if you WANT your bed linens changed on 2+ night stays!

  20. This has absolutely zero, zilch, nothing to do with the environment. It is a cost cutting move, disguised as “corporate responsibility”.

    If this were a true environmental move, they would announce that: we are switching to bulk dispensers, but for those guests who prefer their individual toiletries, we are happy to continue to provide those to guests in PLA containers (which is a corn based plastic substitute that is biodegradable).

  21. So, some housekeeper who may not even speak English is supposed to pour the shampoo in the shampoo bottle, the conditioner in the conditioner bottle, and the body lotion in the body lotion all while being told they only have 20 or 25 minutes to clean a room? You know damn well — if they even find the time to refill the bottles — that shampoo will end up in conditioner bottles and body lotion in shampoo bottles. Has anyone thought about this? Why doesn’t Marriott just use biodegradable or fully recyclable small, individual bottles?

  22. Actually, the whole “green choice” and skipping housekeepers is designed to save money on labor costs because housekeepers, unionized and non-unionized, are paid PER ROOM. This has been a HUGE issue in union negotiations and strikes.

  23. @Ric: So does this mean that in flying out of SFO, one would be violating the law by bringing miniature (presumably, plastic) toiletry bottles in one’s carryon, which is all that’s allowed by TSA? Consequently, I can’t legally bring my own shampoo on a flight out of California?

    I’m all for keeping the planet clean and tidy, but this is madness.

    Combine that with the fact you now have to pay $5 for a drink of water after security, and voilà! Police-nanny state – one step away from Venezuela!

  24. I hate it. Therefore, I now hate Marriott.

    If you want to be green, do not travel. No flights. Keep the car at home. Don’t even travel by train.

    If they want to be green, bar soap in a box and shampoo in a glass bottle.

  25. As @lucky pointed out, as long as the bottles are full and work when housekeeping comes through, shouldn’t be an issue. Recently stayed in a hotel, where I got in the shower and was about to lather up and could not get the soap out of the dispenser. That was infuriating!!!

  26. Well, looks like I have to bring my own stuff with me in the future, awesome -,-
    I can’t emphasize enough how much I hate this.

  27. PEOPLE STOP COMMENTING.

    GO READ THE OLD IHG POST, IT’S THE EXACT SAME COMMENTS.

    All of you spending time here reading and commenting is just wasting electricity. THIS IS DESTROYING THE ENVIRONMENT AND CREATE GLOBAL WARMING.

    And I’m just using the same (wicked) logic as single use post or one gigantic post.

  28. I hate this for many reasons. First of all, I love the individual bottles – I take them home and use them and they remind me of the hotel, so this is free marketing. Second, in my experience, the big bottles do not work – I generally avoid hotels that offer them and have often found that the bottles are inoperable at those that have this system. For example, I recently stayed at the Autograph Collection at Assembly Row which has these bottles – one of them was empty and another one’s pump was broken. I am also suspicious of the cleanliness of the bottles and their contents. This is a very negative change in my opinion and if there are any brands that retain the individual toiletries, I will do my best to stay at them instead.

  29. So now, rather than grabbing a handful of bottles from the housekeeping cart, I can just bring a container and fill up if I like a product.

    And I’ll second the ‘gross’ comments. I hate this idea. I’ll gladly take a single use container that has a marked seal on it any day.

  30. I will believe eliminating miniatures isn’t a cost-cutting issue versus the environment when hotels stop selling and distributing water bottles and provide filtered water at all meals for free. The amount of water bottles on the ground all over the world is appalling. I don’t see small shampoo bottles on the ground.

    What are the hotels giving guests in replacement? I regularly find the housekeepers forget to refill the large bottles find it unappealing to have unfresh filled bottles. When they aren’t refilled, it indicates to me the housekeeper didn’t clean the container or they would notice it was half empty.

  31. Yeah, in this case, do you really think larger, refillable bottles of Asprey Purple Water will work at Ritz-Carlton, or Le Labo will work at EDITION?

    Cathay Pacific does deserve merit on this one. They have high quality amenities in their lounge shower rooms (Aesop, I think?), and presented in a 500ml (larger) bottle.

  32. @Alan

    Shhhhhhh, the sooner they caught on to this, we won’t be getting any designer shampoos anymore but just generic cheap stuff.

    For those properties already dispensing generic cheap stuff. Doing just that is my message to hotels. You think doing this will save you money, lol, think again, keep on pump pump pump!!!!

  33. NOOO!!!! When I stay in limited service properties, I find that about a quarter of the time the soap containers aren’t locked. I really don’t want to shampoo with someone’s jizz.

  34. The locks are a joke and can be easily tampered with. Lawsuits waiting to happen
    I like the little bottles for home use. Most hotels use to encourage you to take them. It was cheap advertising.
    If they truly wanted to Reduce waste look at how many single use items are disposed of at breakfast.

  35. What is going to prevent other customers from putting some kind of product in the bottle itself? What is that product turns your hair a different color or what if it burns your skin? isn’t this why so many people in the Dominican republic have died because of the open containers for the mini bar?

  36. Lots of different opinions on this. It’s always interesting, no fascinating actually to read others comments.

    I’ve run a small upmarket 8 room bed and breakfast here in the UK for 10 years and right from the start we only provided pump dispensers of shampoo, shower gel and hand wash.

    The cost, quality, guest perception and environmental issues were all taken into account. My decision was influenced by my experience of being a guest at several conferences held on P&O cruise ships and contrasting that with stays at countless chain hotels all over the planet.

    The cruise ships had pump dispensers full of high quality Molton Brown toiletries which were lovely compared to the little plastic bottles of generic gloop found in most chain hotels.

    In my B&B I used 500g refillable bottles of products by L’Occitane and guests loved them. They weren’t fixed to the walls and occasionally we lost a bottle to a guests luggage but I’m reasonably confident that overall the cost was no different to supplying lots of little bottles of cheap generic gloop that’s guests would happily steal.

    I’m not an expert in assessing the environmental impact of my decision but I’d hazard a guess that it’s probably better than using loads of single use plastic bottles.

    Based on the reactions of my guests and my own experience of chain hotels I’d say so long as they used good quality products and applied the same standard of replenishing as they do say for toilet rolls, it’s a win win for guests, hotels and the environment.

    To those that are truly concerned about tampering, I’d suggest bringing your own toiletries no mater what is supplied by the accommodation. Fiendish perverts can subvert any bottle if they so desire.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog and the comments over the years. Thanks Ben for your hard work.

  37. Hate to say it, but they will refill with cheap no-name items. I get the environmental aspect of it and agree there. But it’s just rather disgusting to me. It’s like sharing a toothbrush with a total stranger (or anyone for that matter). The containers cannot be assumed to be cleaned, so you are putting your hands on items that strangers have touched with dirty hands in the most intimate of places. This is just a disgusting move. I bring my own shampoo and conditioner, but generally use the hotel bar soap.

    If we could only trust hotels to always ensure the containers are filled with proper items, AND they were thoroughly cleaned/sanitized between guests it might make it easier. But realistically that won’t happen.

  38. From my past experience staying in Four Points, the malfunction rate is probably around 10%. It felt terrible when you couldn’t pump any shower gel out of the bottles so you had to use shampoos instead. But you would never remember to mention this to the front desk the next morning when you were running late. So the issue would remain and inconvenient the next guest.

  39. This saddens me on several fronts. 20 years ago I saved bottles from almost 600 stays in 3 years, and then dumped them in the ocean in front of my house. Now I have an amazing coral reef that rivals anything you can see in Oz or Belize. I will have to start drinking beer in aluminum cans again so I can sustain the reef and protect the ecosystem. End of an era …

  40. Ben
    So you do not mind if someone pees in your bulk bottle before you arrival?

    There was a hygienic reason for those small dispensable bottles.

    Surely they could come up with ECO bottles but that would cost more.

    This is an outright cost cutting measure.

    Sometimes we feel you are on the Marriott gravy train.

    If you are really fussy or posh about hotels quality and service how could you dare accept this? Very Contradictory.

  41. to Leo: I’ve used the tea tree products pictured in Marriott Courtyards. They are Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Lemon Sage body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. Courtyard bathrooms still have small plastic bottles of hand lotion and small bars of soap. The big bottles are attached to the wall, and have transparent strips on the sides so housekeeping can refill when the quantities are low. The body wash and hair products have a fresh, clean scent.

  42. Just to advise all those who are worried about fellow guests urinating (or worse) in these bottles.
    A number of properties o have stayed in use a dispenser with an unfillable bag in it. It’s easy to recognised as they are usually pointed downwards. I have never had pump issues with them (much simpler mechanism) and as the name suggests – are not fillable.
    The bag itself, I am told is biodegradable

  43. I am in favor of this change. I don’t like it, but, like with plastic grocery bags, I can see the value and I will adapt. We all will.

    However, I find it strikingly odd that all posters here in favor of banning small plastic toiletries in order to save the world have absolutely nothing to say about the much larger, single use, plastic water bottles which are in such monumental
    demand.
    Does the same logic not apply?
    The world somehow does not matter when faced with the proposition of revolting tap water versus water from a precious plastic bottle?
    After all, many of these plastic bottles have been transported around the world to satisfy your addiction.
    It is so California to cheer and congratulate each other on banning little bottles, and then recharge with a gulp of a Fiji water before tossing the bottle on the beach, half full.

  44. Instead of forcing this down travelers’ throats, how about (as some here have mentioned) taking them out of rooms, but still offering them on request? If I’m traveling by car, I usually bring my own toiletries anyway, as I generally use better stuff than the hotels give out. But, when I fly, thanks to the 3oz. rule, I count on having the basics waiting for me. And, those dispensers are both inconvenient (have never seen one at the sink – only in the shower) and mold-prone…when housekeeping actually bothers to keep them filled.

    You don’t like the small toiletries? Simple. Don’t use them, and leave them for someone who will.

  45. I agree that this might have started out as a cost-cutting move. Though, it will be better for the environment. Most travelers bring their own products anyway. And I have so many unopened bottles I’ve collected and never used.

    I’ve used dispensers in some airbnbs and haven’t had any problems. It will be harder to keep them clean in a hotel setting though. I’m sure we’ll get used to it.

  46. I cant imagine that this will end up saving them any money overall. My wife will use WAY MORE shampoo, etc. with thw changes. Ahe usually brings her own because the small bottles were not enough. She wony have to worry now about not having enough. Not to mention , she likes a couple of the types of shampoo and lotion… so I would not be surprised to find her bringing empty bottles to fill up. I am pretty sure most people that I know would also be likely to use significantly more product.

  47. This is just unacceptable. These small bottles are not a problem. There are plenty of places in desert and ice lands that can be used to store these items.

  48. Have stayed at 2 Marriott properties with these in the past couple of weeks, one Courtyard and one Moxy. The quality of the products is decent, but in both cases the conditioner bottles weren’t working properly. Has anyone at Marriott given any thought to the fact that often conditioner is not of a consistency that easily pumps? It’s not as runny as shampoo or body wash and therefore doesn’t pump properly unless the bottle is completely full. Marriott needs to rethink this for conditioner in particular or do some research into better dispensers.

  49. You are 100% right, Andrew. I bring my own conditioner for the same reason. Even with the little bottles, I need at least two of conditioner because it is hard to get out the thicker liquid. Same applies with the hand lotion.

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