More than six months have passed since the April 2022 enactment of the ” Law Concerning the Promotion of Resource Recycling of Plastics ” (Plastic Resource Recycling Law). The 12 specified plastic products subject to reduction include amenity goods such as toothbrushes, combs, and shower caps, which are indispensable for hotels and inns. Many hotels have already taken measures to reduce the 12 items, as they may be subject to recommendation, public announcement, or order if their efforts are significantly insufficient.

[Related Article]What is the Act on Recycling of Plastic Resources?
[Related Articles] Plastic Circulation Law, What are hotels doing about it? 11 Examples of Initiatives

However, the purpose of the Plastic Waste Recycling Law is to “reduce the disposal of plastic and promote its recycling as a resource,” and the goal is not to reduce the number of the 12 items covered this time. The Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), in their public notice of the law, also mention continuous promotion, stating that they will “monitor the efforts and quantitatively verify the overall progress as much as possible,” and various hotels have already begun to take further steps to reduce plastics.

In this column, we will introduce examples of hotels that have reduced their use of plastics “other than the 12 items” covered by the Plastic Waste Recycling Law. These examples may provide hints on how to go one step further and promote sustainable hospitality.

(Click here for examples of reduction of 12 items subject to the Plastic Recycling Law > Hotels,Restaurants)


Reviewing bottled drinking water

Case 1. Replacing paper bottles

First, we suggest that you review the plastic bottled drinking water in each guest room. Mineral water in paper containers has been attracting attention in recent years as the de-plasticization trend accelerates. In Japan, as of 2019, there were two products from one company in the market, but by October 2022, the number had increased to 19 products from 16 companies, representing a ten-fold increase in three years. According to Japan Tetra Pak Co., Ltd. which has fully launched this mineral water paper container in the Japanese market, Tetra Pak’s paper containers are manufactured mainly from paper made from renewable resources, and its raw materials are certified by ” Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)”, an international forest management council. The company says that its paper containers are made mainly from paper made from renewable resources.


Case 2. Replace with biodegradable plastic bottles

“Hilton Japan, Korea, and Micronesia District” is beginning to introduce Earth Group Water, a biodegradable plastic bottle for bottled drinking water to be placed in guest rooms in 2019. These bottles are biodegradable plastic bottles that are 100% recyclable and will break down naturally within 10 years. The Earth Group, the distributor, uses the net profits to remove 1.5 pieces of ocean plastic waste for every bottle of product sold, as well as provide more than 500,000 school lunches annually to children around the world.


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Case 3. Use of glass bottles

“Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo” is switching its mineral water for guest rooms to “From AQUA Returnable Bottle” products from 2021. Returnable bottles are collected after use, the contents are cleaned, and the bottles are refilled before commercialization. If a collection scheme is in place, the bottles can be used over and over again. This means that raw materials and energy used to manufacture new containers can be reduced, and since plastic is not used as a raw material, these containers can be considered environmentally friendly.

[Related article] Hyatt Centric Ginza, Tokyo, Japan, Adopts Returnable Bottled Water in Guestrooms

Drinking water is also provided in bottles at “SIX SENSES HOTELS Resorts & Spas”, which operates 19 resorts and hotels and 27 spas in 19 countries. The hotel says it treats and purifies drinking water on the premises of each property, fills it into reusable glass bottles, and provides it to guests free of charge.


Case 4. Promotion and introduction of use of “My Bottle

“Hilton Nagoya” has set up a water station in the hotel to provide free drinking water to guests who bring their own bottles or tumblers, etc., in order to aim for a sustainable environment and to spread awareness of its importance.

In addition, “Shibuya Stream Excel Hotel Tokyu” is introducing Japan’s first eco-bottle “My Bottle of Forest” made of domestic thinned wood in all guest rooms from 2022, with the aim of reducing plastic waste. The material used is thinned cypress from Wakayama Prefecture mixed with plastic. The company says that 28% of the entire container is made of materials derived from thinned wood, allowing guests to enjoy the natural texture and aroma of wood-derived materials.

[Related Article]Shibuya Stream Excel Hotel Tokyu introduces Japan’s first eco-bottle made from domestic thinned wood in all rooms.


Case 5. Installation of water server

The aforementioned Shibuya Stream Excel Hotel Tokyu will introduce water servers at the same time as “My Bottle of Forest”. By installing these water servers on each floor, the hotel has eliminated the use of plastic bottles of mineral water that were previously provided free of charge in guest rooms. The hotel aims to have guests use these bottles as containers for carrying water from the water server to their guest rooms. This will reduce the amount of PET bottle waste by approximately 70,000 bottles per year.

“1Hotels”, which is attracting worldwide attention as a sustainable luxury hotel, also provides glass cups and filtered water in all guest rooms.


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Review room furnishings

Case 6. Wooden card key

“minacia co., ltd.” which operates 39 hotels with 5,166 rooms nationwide, including “Hotel Wing International”, is gradually replacing plastic card keys with wooden eco-friendly card keys starting in February 2022. These wooden cards are certified by “Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)”, a forest management council that certifies international forest management from the purchase of raw materials to the production and sale of the cards.


Example 7. Door sign made of natural materials

A door sign, usually lowered on a hotel doorknob, tells guests whether they need a change of sheets or towels, room cleaning, or other services. Like card keys, in recent years we have seen more and more wooden door signs that are environmentally friendly.

At “1Hotels”, a leader in sustainable hotels worldwide, the door signs in guest rooms are made of natural stone. When you want your sheets changed, leave them “NOW”, when you don’t need them, turn them inside out and leave them “NOT NOW”.


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Case 8. Bedding mattresses made of biomass plastic

Many hotels have introduced special bedding, such as mattresses used by top athletes, pillows of royal warrant brands, and medical mattresses, and promote them as added value. “Meuble” a company that plans and manufactures furniture and bedding, has developed its own material, “RICEWAVE”, which contains “RiceResin”, a domestic biomass plastic made from old rice that is not fit for human consumption and crushed rice generated by rice snack manufacturers and other companies, as well as inedible rice that is not processed as animal feed.

According to the company’s official website, this cushioning material using RICEWAVE has been used in hotels, poolside and glamping facilities, sports scenes, nurseries, and various other applications and places. Furthermore, the company is currently working on a project related to mattresses.


Case 9. Use of hangers made of environmentally friendly materials

Hangers are an essential part of guestroom closets. Various types of hangers made of environmentally friendly materials are now available, including wooden ones, paper, and ones made of biodegradable plastic. “TRUNK (HOTEL)”, which is based on the concept of socializing, uses hangers made from upcycled iron that is no longer used in iron factories.


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Review the furnishings of the hotel’s facilities.

Case 10. Recyclable earphones in a fitness gym

Fitness centers at “Hyatt Hotels” in North America are replacing their previously disposable earbuds with recyclable ones; in 2017, more than 80 Hyatt hotels contributed to the recycling of nearly 65,000 earbuds.


Case 11. Abolition of plastic bags / lending of eco-bags

“Imperial Hotel” has eliminated plastic handbags from its hotel stores in Imperial Hotel Tokyo, Osaka, and Kamikochi. The hotel also plans to switch to other materials for plastic containers for prepared foods and other items. In addition, Richmond Hotel is offering free rental of eco-friendly bags to guests who go shopping so that they do not have to use plastic bags.


Include in your accommodation plan

Case 12. Selling a plastic reduction accommodation plan

In October 2022, “JTB Corporation” launched a plastic waste reduction accommodation plan that combines “no amenities” and “drink refill service at accommodation facilities” in cooperation with accommodation providers in the Shiga Kogen area. The plan is titled “Start with My Bottle and Get Rid of Plastic Waste! The plan, titled “One Drink in the Bottle & No Hotel Amenities,” is available at three facilities in the Shiga Kogen area of Nagano Prefecture: Shiga Park Hotel, Suzurikawa Hotel, and Kidoike Onsen Hotel.

In August 2022, THE BLOSSOM KYOTO in Kyoto City will launch the “SDGs Kyoto Furoshiki and Original My Bottle” accommodation plan, which includes the hotel’s original furoshiki and a my-bottle that is convenient for carrying while sightseeing. The package also includes a instruction manual for those who have never used furoshiki before, and workshops will be held for those who would like to learn more about how to use furoshiki in more detail.


Editor’s Note

In 2019, the total amount of disposable plastics discarded worldwide was about 130 million tons. Of that amount, Japan accounted for 4.31 million tons of total annual waste, the fourth highest in the world. Japan is one of the world’s largest disposers of plastic. This is an issue that must be addressed by each and every one of us to fulfill our responsibility to a sustainable environment, not just because a law is enforced or a penalty is imposed.

At the same time, proactively launching plastic reduction measures in the midst of consumers becoming more environmentally conscious every day will also increase the added value of hotels. Why not start with what you can do, one at a time?

[Related Article]


[Reference Site]Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry of the Environment Notification No. 2
[Reference site] Japan Tetra Pak: Rapid growth of environmentally friendly mineral water paper containers
[Reference site] Hilton began introducing “Earth Group Water,” a biodegradable plastic bottle in hotel rooms in Japan on August 1, 2012, with the net profits benefiting environmental conservation and charitable activities.
[Reference Site] Six Senses Serves Up Sustainable Food and Water
[Reference Site]1Hotels
[Reference Site]Hotel Wing Chain Tenza Hotels are gradually replacing plastic card keys with wooden eco-friendly card keys in an effort to become more environmentally friendly hotels.
[Reference Site]Newly developed core material “RICEWAVE™” made of RiceResin®, a Japanese biomass plastic.
[Reference site] TRUNK (HOTEL)
[Reference Site] Hyatt Announces Global Efforts to Reduce Single-Use Plastics
[Reference Site] Imperial Hotel, Tokyo Environmental Activities
[Reference Site] Brits want hotels to ban plastic bags and bottles
[Reference Site] JTB launched “Contribute to Decarbonization, Reduce Plastic Waste Accommodation Plan” to support the SDGs through travel!
[Reference Site] “THE BLOSSOM KYOTO” x A new step toward contributing to the SDGs
[Reference Site] Japan Council for Ethical Promotion

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