Hotels run by the Hilton group in the UAE will ban all use of plastic straws by the end of the year to join the growing campaign against plastic pollution.
The chain estimates five million plastic straws and 20 million plastic bottles will be removed from hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa every year as a result.
Hilton will remove plastic straws and offer a paper or biodegradable alternative upon request – an effort the company plans to implement globally across its hotels by the end of 2018.
The hotel group will also remove plastic water bottles from meetings and events in its regional facilities across the EMEA region, as part of its global ‘Meet with Purpose’ program to offer socially and environmentally responsible meetings.
“As a leading global hospitality company, we have a huge responsibility to act as stewards of our natural resources, and support the communities in which we operate,” said Simon Vincent, executive vice president and president, EMEA, Hilton.
“Extending a ban on plastic straws across our managed portfolio is an important move in the right direction, and one which we are committed to building on in the coming years.”
An estimated eight million tons of plastic waste enter the ocean each year, and research projects that plastic in our oceans could triple in a decade.
Plastic pollution not only impacts our waters and marine life, but also our food chain and overall health.
A UK government report, The Future of the Sea, has forecast plastic debris in the seas will triple to 150 million tons by 2025 at existing levels of use.
The Office for Science report warned dangerous bacteria like E-coli can accumulate on plastic rubbish found in coastal waters, increasing infection risk to swimmers, and divers.
In March, UAE government officials and ambassadors from foreign embassies joined volunteers to clean up beaches on Lulu Island in Abu Dhabi, where plastic is washed ashore by currents.
A further environmental pledge by Hilton is to become the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets to reduce its carbon emissions and commit to sending zero hotel soap to landfill.
Its ban on straws is part of a new set of global targets designed to cut Hilton’s environmental footprint in half by 2030 and double its social impact investment around the world.
“For nearly 100 years, Hilton has been driven by our mission to have a positive impact on the communities surrounding our hotels,” said Christopher Nassetta, president and chief executive of Hilton and chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council.
“In this golden age of travel, we are taking a leadership role to ensure that the destinations where travelers work, relax, learn and explore are vibrant and resilient for generations of adventurers yet to come.”