Hotels and Plastics: Threat Or Savior?

By Jan Peter Bergkvist Owner, SleepwellAB | May 27, 2018

Plastic is a great material and is, as we all know, used in billions of different applications, many of which are linked to the hotel sector. However, only 14 percent of all plastic packaging is collected for recycling after use, and vast quantities of the rest escape into the environment.

Almost all kinds of plastic degrade slowly. This tells us that we shall avoid it as packaging for foodstuffs and frequently used products such as bags and straws.

During the last decade, it has become obvious that far too much plastic ends up in the natural environment and remains there as litter. The role of plastics in society has increasingly become one of the major environmental sustainability challenges alongside climate, water-and biodiversity challenges, to name a few.

The problem with visible litter has been obvious to us for decades, especially in low-income countries with poor waste handling procedures. But a more recently acknowledged catastrophe is the molecular waste that occurs when plastics in our oceans are partly degraded and consumed by fish and other sea creatures. Not only can this result in starvation, (as fish stomachs become full but without the intake of nutrients); but also cause hormonal disorders as degraded and micro-plastics have the capacity to carry toxic chemical compounds.

From a climate perspective, we know that a vast majority of all plastic today is made from crude oil, and when incinerated adds to climate change through the fossil CO2 emissions.

The perception of plastics has changed rapidly among politicians and consumers. China has recently stopped the import of plastic waste from Europe; and even more importantly, retailers' bans of plastic bags in many countries reflect growing consumer concern. This, together with increasing unease about molecular waste from sources such as synthetic fibers in clothes or plastic football turfs, (that eventually ends up in our seas and oceans), suggests that we are seeing a rapid change in our attitudes to plastic.

Swedish authorities promote tap water as the obvious better choice with the slogan: Clean Water - No transport - No waste!
Child observing an ecological disaster on a beach
Know where your plastic waste ends up? It takes thousands of years for plastic to biodegrade...
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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.