Topic 3 Thinking about single use…

Here is a interesting video to realize what is behind the use of a single-use item:

Take now five minutes to list the single-use plastic items that are used in the hospitality industry.

Once ready you can compare it to the list found below.

Click Me

Where are single-use plastic items used? The answer is everywhere

A list by place of use can help you identify the items. Here is the time each item needs to break up.

Pool bar

Plastic water bottles

Plastic straws and stirrers

Up to 70 – 450 years

Up to 200 years

Swimming Pool

Single-use plastic glass

Styrofoam cups and takeaway packaging

20 – 30 years

50 years


Plastic lined paper cones

30 years


Bin liners

Cleaning product bottles

Up to 1000 years

Up to 100 years

Hotel Room

Plastic wrap for glasses

Miniature toiletries

Toilet seat covers

Up to 1000 years

Just under 100 years

Up to 1000 years


Plastic jam/honey packets

Plastic lined tea bags

20 – 30 years

20 – 30 years


Plastic ketchup bottle

Plastic food wrap

70 – 450 years

10 – 20 years

Source: The plastics reduction guide for hotels –


What can you do?

Plastics have a role to play in the hospitality industry, but all too often single-use plastics are used out of habit, rather than necessity. Not only does this generate huge amounts of waste, but the costs for hotels can add up too.

Best solution is to suppress them but if it is not possible, it is also possible to replace them by less impacting items. You can also be helped by communication tools to raise awareness and educate customers and staff, or by nudges.

These ways to induce consumers to better choices are described in Module 12.

Source: Dutch travel trade association ANVR, MVO Nederland and WWF (n.d.)- 

What are you compelled to do?

Here is the regulation position on single-use plastic item. The European Commission proposed on May 2018 new EU-wide rules to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas (around 86% of single used plastics), as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. Together these constitute 70% of all marine litter items.

In June 2019, the law banning the following single used plastic items by 2021 was adopted by the European Parliament: Single-use plastic cutlery and plates, cotton bud sticks made of plastic, plastic straws, plastic balloon sticks, Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers and expanded polystyrene cup. These products will disappear once countries regulations will have integrated this law. Other regulations restricting the use or banning some current common products with sad environmental impact could follow.

Proactivity in reducing use of single-use items is a good way to prepare forthcoming potential restriction.

Let’s  think about recent regulations

In several countries lightweight plastic bags have already been banned since (Wikipedia, 2020):

  • 2011 in Italy;
  • 2017 for small retailers to a full ban in 2020 in Moldavia;
  • 2020 in Balearic islands.

Or they are charged to decrease their use since:

  • 2009 in North Macedonia;
  • 2018 in Spain;
  • 2018 in Greece.

Think about what this has changed in terms of habits, environment, etc.

  • Do you remember this change?
  • What did you think about the change when it happened and what do you think now?
  • What seems to be normal now, and what did it seem to be normal before?

Source: (2021)