In Nationwide First, California Bans Single-Use Plastic Hotel Toiletries

California is continuing to lead the way in the fight against climate change by becoming the first state in the nation to ban single-use plastic hotel toiletries, a move that will reduce the amount of plastic trash ending up in the ocean.

Single-use plastics are more controversial than ever before as more and more people realize the damage they are doing to the environment and wildlife. While President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate refused to act, California is stepping up to fill the void.

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that forces hotels across the state to phase out the use of single-use plastic toiletries, including the complimentary little shampoo and conditioner bottles guests often find.

“Single-use products like those tiny plastic bottles commonly provided in hotels rooms represent a sizable amount of waste that can be easily eliminated through more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives,” California Assemblyman Ash Kalra said in a statement. “We have reached a tipping point for action and more needs to be done that transition consumers and businesses towards more sustainable alternatives. And given our state’s large presence in tourism, this will be a model for the nation.”

Indeed, California has already inspired New York state lawmakers to take action through introducing a similar bill sponsored by state Senator Todd Kaminsky, who spoke about it in a press release reported by CNN.

“Little everyday actions, like eliminating small plastic bottles, will have a positive impact on our environment,” Kaminsky said. “By barring hotels from giving single-use plastic toiletries to customers, we are safeguarding our environment, and mitigating plastic waste and waterway pollution.”

Plastic is already burying the planet. Even wildlife can no longer avoid it, resulting in senseless deaths around the globe that could be prevented. Plastic is now even found in the most remote places on Earth. No matter where we go, plastic is there as well in some form.

The consequences of violating the new law would be $500 for every day an establishment doesn’t correct a first violation. After the second violation, the fine escalates to $2,000. Hotels have until 2024 to complete the phase-out.

The good news is that many hotels are already on the path toward phasing out these single-use plastic toiletries in favor of installing bulk dispensers in showers and next to sinks. That effort is being led by the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) and the 17 major hotel brands under its umbrella.

“It’s more important than ever that companies challenge themselves to operate responsibly,” IHG CEO Keith Barr said in a statement earlier this year. “We know it’s what our guests, owners, colleagues, investors and suppliers rightly expect. 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.”

Many of those hotels are located in California, which means they clearly saw this legislation coming and took action. Of course, this bill definitely affects product producers and distributors, who will now be forced to come up with an acceptable alternative if they want to do business with hotels in the state, or anywhere else for that matter since the anti-plastic movement is catching fire.

Hopefully, more states will follow suit.

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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