Holiday Inn owner ditches mini shampoos to save oceans and curb plastic pollution

LONDON (AP) - The fight to save the seas from plastic waste may mean the end for mini bottles of shampoo and other toiletries that hotel guests love to stuff into their luggage.

The owner of Holiday Inn and InterContinental Hotels said Tuesday that its nearly 843,000 guest rooms are switching to bulk-size bathroom amenities as part of an effort to cut waste. The transition is due to be completed in 2021.

"Switching to larger-size amenities across more than 5,600 hotels around the world is a big step in the right direction and will allow us to significantly reduce our waste footprint and environmental impact as we make the change," said InterContinental Hotels Group CEO Keith Barr.

IHG, which uses an average of 200 million bathroom miniatures every year, said customers expect them to act responsibly.

And there is little doubt that public awareness of the problem of plastic waste has been swelling.

Global plastic production increased to 380 million metric tons (418 million tons) in 2015 from 2 million metric tons in 1950, according to research by Roland Geyer, a professor of industrial ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, together with Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia and Kara Lavender Law of the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

About 60% of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced throughout history has ended up as waste, with more than three-fourths of that going into landfills or the environment, the authors estimated in a 2017 article. In 2010 alone, between 4 million and 12 million metric tons of plastic entered the marine environment.

Shocking images keep hammering the point home. Notable campaigns included one by Britain's Sky News, which showed whales bloated by plastic bags when the creatures were cut open after dying. Further trash horrors were underscored by TV naturalist David Attenborough, whose documentary "Blue Planet II" delivered heartbreaking shots of sea turtles shrouded in plastic.

And where consumers' attention goes, so does that of companies.

Amcor, L'Oréal, Mars, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Walmart and Werner & Mertz are among the companies who have committed to move, where relevant, from single-use to reusable packaging by 2025. according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an innovation think-tank.