New York to Ban Hotel Single-Use Toiletries in 2025

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single-use toiletries lined up in shower stallSingle-use toiletries will disappear next year in New York hotels with more than 50 rooms.

Single-use toiletries — those little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and bodywash — are being phased out of New York hotels with more than 50 rooms starting Jan. 1, 2025. The state regulation behind the ban was supposed to have gone into effect already, but was delayed so hotels could use up the little bottles they already had in stock, according to an article in the Time Union. New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) suggests that hotels that still have some single-use bottles in stock can donate them to charitable organization or to organizations that recycle hotel soap and amenities, such as Clean the World and Rock and Wrap It Up!

New York is following the lead of California, which already has a law that went into effect last year requiring larger hotels and motels to ban individual small plastic toiletry bottles. Smaller properties in California have to comply with the ban as of this year. Washington state has passed a similar ban on single-use plastic packaging in its hotels, slated to go into effect in 2027 for larger hotels and in 2028 for smaller properties.

New York’s ban on 12-ounce-or-less bottles called for under the regulation, which was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul in 2021, is part of a larger package of environmental legislation designed to reduce single-use plastic in New York. In addition to the toiletries in smaller hotels and any other “building or portion of a building which is regularly used and kept open as such for the lodging of guests,” the rule also increases bottle deposits to 10 cents.

Former Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who introduced the bill in 2021, said at its signing that the ban will reduce the number of single-use bottles used just in New York City hotels by 27 million. According to the Time Union article, the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association is on board with the ban not only because it’s good for the environment, but also because it’s more expensive for hotels to restock those little bottles than to refill larger containers of shampoos and hand lotion. The lack of pushback from hotels also may be because, according to NYSHTA President Mark Dorr, three-quarters of hotels in the state already have made the switch.

North American properties operated by major hotel chains such as Marriott and Hilton already have changed from single-use toiletries to wall-mounted dispensers. When Marriott announced in 2019 that its 2018 switchover initiative had been so successful that it would be expanding it to most of its hotels globally, Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson, since deceased, said in a LinkedIn post, “The feedback from guests has been overwhelmingly positive.” He added that “A typical large amenity bottle is the equivalent of about 10 to 12 single-use bottles. The smaller, single-use bottles are generally not recycled and end up in our hotels’ trash bins — generating refuse that will never truly decompose in landfills. The larger bottles are recyclable.” In all, when fully implemented across its global properties, he estimated that Marriott’s program would take about 500 million single-use bottles out of landfills, a reduction of the chain’s amenity plastic usage of 30%.

Guests, including meeting attendees, may not be quite as happy about the ban as hotels appear to be. When hotels began to make the switch to bulk wall dispensers a few years ago, Richard Kerr outlined his objections on The Points Guy, saying, “I — for one — cannot stand these dispensers. Give me back my individual hotel toiletries.” Among his objections, shared by many hotel guests, are that the dispensers don’t get cleaned thoroughly enough, and worries that hotels may shave more costs by filling the dispensers with cheap products masquerading as the good stuff on the label — or that a malicious previous guest could fill it with something worse, such as Nair hair remover. Others bemoan being able to restock their travel bags or guest bathrooms with the freebie little shampoos and conditioners.

As former NY state Senator Kaminski said in 2019, “The other way to look at it is that we have been polluting the waters and streams for decades and it’s not getting better; we’re using more and more single-use [plastics] every year. It will be a little disruptive, but we owe it to the planet to do this.”

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