• By: Anne Dion

Meliá Hotels International’s Small Steps and Big Leaps in the Fight Against Plastic Pollution

Photos by David Massy

A huge portion of pollution today happens in the form of plastic waste. The fragments we discard fill our landfills, wash up on our shores, and impact the animals that live in almost every biome. We need to start making more large-scale innovations if we want to see the changes in the staggering damage we’re causing to our planet. One international hotel chain has vowed to do just that — Meliá Hotels International plans to eliminate all single-use plastics in their hotels around the world by the end of 2018!

Gabriel Escarrer, Executive Vice President and CEO of Meliá Hotels International, made the announcement on June 8th. This bold yet simple change will replace plastic bottles, cups, bags, straws and coasters with reusable items immediately. The switch will save more than 15 tonnes of CO2 emissions that would otherwise be generated in a single year.

In 2017, over 22 million plastic bottles were disposed of at Meliá Hotel locations internationally. The plan to eliminate this waste has lead the “Carbon Disclosure Project” index to name Meliá Hotels International one of the world’s leading companies in combating climate change. Companies play a pivotal role in the fight against climate change; as major users of both energy and materials, it will be crucial for other big companies to join in on Meliá Hotels International’s initiative if we are to meet the goals that the United Nation laid out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

"Great customer experiences have to be compatible with respect for the planet.” says Gabriel Escarrer. “Combatting climate change and reducing emissions has been part of our strategy for years, with well-established energy efficiency programmes in hotels and agreements with suppliers regarding the exclusive use of renewable energy.”

Another big player in the fight against plastic pollution is the #LastStraw campaign. As plastic straws are single use and are often too small for recycling plants to process, they almost immediately turn into marine waste after their first and only use. There are better, biodegradable alternatives available that are made of bamboo, corn starch, or paper, that are more expensive. The more businesses commit to making the switch, the more the price will fall, eventually pushing plastic straws out of the mainstream. Joey Lansdowne, here in Ottawa, has joined the movement and declared the intention to eliminate plastic straws by 2019!

You can get in on the action too by spreading the word and ordering your drinks without straws! Most of us are probably unaware of the amount of plastic that comes in and out of our lives every day. It’s a small sacrifice to eliminate some of what we waste, but it can make a huge impact!