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Hotels in China pursue greener future for all

By CHEN HONG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-11 07:51
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Small bottles have gradually been replaced by bigger containers to hold bath products in China's star hotels.

The reduction of the use of plastics, together with a variety of measures including recycling the waste and improving waste reduction management, has been highlighting the efforts of the star hotels in China to be more environmentally friendly.

The moves are in line with the country's tightening regulations in the industry. The Ministry of Commerce requested in 2020 that all the star hotels in China stop providing disposable plastic items to guests voluntarily by the end of 2022, which will be extended to cover the remaining guesthouses and hotels nationwide by the end of 2025.

While encouraged by China's strategic goal of achieving a carbon emissions peak and carbon neutrality, some luxury brands said they have upheld the philosophy of green hotels and performed their social responsibilities.

Shangri-La Group launched a campaign among its hotels on the Chinese mainland called "working toward a plastic-free future" last October. It decided to stop the supply of disposable plastic bottled water to banquets and meetings in all of its hotels. Glass bottles, water jugs and mobile water dispensers have been used instead.

The group said it has been practicing for years to reduce the use of disposable plastic products given the increasingly serious levels of plastic waste on Earth. It has changed the packaging of its slippers into paper since 2019, saving 11 metric tons of plastic every year. It began to stop the use of disposable plastic straws and stir sticks in all its hotels and restaurants in 2019, reducing plastic consumption by 6 million pieces every year.

According to the group, it has mapped out a five-year plastic reduction goal, as part of the group's strategic planning for environment, society and governance, that the average use of disposable plastic per guest room will be cut by half in 2026 compared to the level in 2019.

Hotels and resorts managed by Hilton have also explored new ways in their daily operations to save energy, reduce waste and cut emissions.

In 2021, Hilton Shenzhen Shekou Nanhai in Guangdong province introduced a set of smart kitchen waste treatment equipment to degrade all kitchen waste in the hotel into carbon dioxide, water and harmless organic fertilizer.

The hotel degraded 390 tons of kitchen waste and produced about 20 tons of organic fertilizer in a year, which is used for the hotel's landscaping and gardening. The rest was used for the greenery of the community nearby.

According to Hilton's report on ESG, which was released in April 2022, digital locks have been used, as an alternative to plastic cards, in more than 80 percent of Hilton hotels worldwide, reducing plastic use by about 125 tons.

To facilitate the popularity of e-vehicles, around 80 Hilton hotels in China have been equipped with charging piles, said the report. The group launched a new search function on its website in December 2021 to help guests easily locate hotels with such charging facilities.

Its notable soap cycling scheme, which was carried out with nonprofit organizations, has collected about 60 tons of the used soaps by the end of 2021. These have been turned into clean soaps once again after a round of treatment, and were donated to areas in need.

In another recycling scheme initiated by coffee machine supplier Nespresso, hotels including Shenzhen Marriott Hotel Nanshan helped collect the used coffee capsules. They will be turned into chopsticks or pens by Nespresso to achieve the environmental goal of turning waste into treasure.

In Shenzhen, a booming southern city bordering Hong Kong where most luxury hotels are located, Intercontinental Shenzhen has set up a reward system to encourage guests to gradually reduce disposable items.

According to the hotel, as long as customers do not request room cleaning, bed changing, or extra disposable daily necessities during their stay, they will be able to earn "green rewards" — 500 points per night from the hotel.

Raffles Shenzhen has improved its green product design and introduced artificial intelligence technology and digital applications, such as an intelligent energy consumption induction system, an electrostatic filter that can absorb 0.01-micron aerosol, a rainwater collection and recycling system, and intelligent water-saving bathroom facilities.

Xiao Chenxi contributed to this story.

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