How hotels are adopting green practices

Muscat: Did you know that all paper cups in the world have plastic liners which are now being replaced with stainless steel washable cups with no wastes?

Even the ‘do not disturb’ signs or no door knob menus have gone digital or garbage bags made from Cassava implemented for all wastes. Most hotels in the Sultanate which claim to have banned plastics have a long way to go. This is not a small task by any means and each and every one of them involved needs to do much more.

The Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) is leading the fight not only locally in the Sultanate but globally in particular for IHG and also for Omran Company. IHG globally are also driving change to eliminate plastics while Omran which has over a dozen hotels in the Sultanate are driving hotels to do more for the environment.

Paul Schenk, Hotel Manager, Crowne Plaza Muscat, Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC), is on a mission to eliminate plastics in his hotel and inspire others. They will soon be the first business hotel in the world to be ‘plastic free.’

The hotel also aims to be the first business hotel in the world that has its own water bottling factory and has eliminated 250,000 plastic water bottles. “We created a circular economy module which means to reuse, refill, reuse and refill as we have to do more for the environment faster,” admits Paul who is on a mission to eliminate 100 per cent single use plastics. His ultimate aim is to save the planet and protect Oman’s unique coasts and beaches.

However, René D Egle, Area General Manager for Shangri-La Resorts in Muscat says, “The current pandemic has unfortunately slowed down the plastic elimination plans around the globe, especially with the new health and safety standards and precautionary measures of COVID-19. The safety of our guests and colleagues during these critical times becomes our first and foremost priority.”

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa has ensured that all the current plastics utilised for packaging is used temporarily and is either recyclable or biodegradable. Since 2018 all plastic straws have been completely eliminated and the resort is now using paper straws.

Prior to COVID-19, Shangri-La had installed water fountains around the resort and metal bottles were being sold at cost price to encourage guests to reduce the usage of plastic water bottles. Unfortunately water fountains are now non-operational to avoid any cross contamination during the pandemic.

Hotels globally are applauding IHGs innovation as they work with several product producers globally to trial and roll out new non-plastic solutions. An example is the first Nespresso machine compatible coffee capsules in the world which are 100 per cent plastic free and are compostable and biodegradable. They also have the first cling film in the world that is made 100 per cent from vegetables.

Local suppliers like Al Zain have been ordered to change their supply of eggs to cartons, reducing 20,000 plastic trays per year or even A’Safwah Dairy to change from milk cartons to paper. They are also currently looking at a product for shampoo, conditioner and body lotion for the bathrooms.

However, Paul mentions that they have changed hundreds of products now and are putting more pressure on their suppliers. “Every single item we have changed costs us less money as we are also educating our guests.”

He says the hotel informs their guests to bring their own cups for coffee as all paper cups are lined with a plastic bag. “If we have to give a take away cup then we tell the guest we care about the environment so we are not giving you a plastic lid unless you insist you need one,” he informs. It is not surprising that many people understand and refuse the lid which saves money. They also have the first in the world coffee cup lid made from bamboo fiber which is 100 per cent non-plastic.

Take away coffee cups top is made from paper and will be the first to implement in the Middle East. The guests are also asked as to what they want to consider leaving it off for the environment. An example is of samples for in room amenities, where each and every item is 100 per cent plastic free.

Last year the hotel launched a new bottling factory project on the ground floor costing RO 10,000. They also have sparkling water or aerated water full of bubbles. The Shangri-La Resort is also planning a water bottling plant project due to be launched before 2022 which will completely replace plastic bottles.

Other environmental initiatives at Crowne Plaza include an herbal garden, beehives and solar panels on the roof, 100 per cent LED lighting for the entire hotel, public area waterless urinals, public area motion detector water flow for sinks and many others.