Disposables in Hotel Rooms - Yay or Nay


Housekeepers from Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar weigh the pros and cons of having disposables in hotel rooms.


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November 24, 2021
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Disposables in Hotel Rooms - Yay or Nay

The topic of using disposables in hotel rooms has always been debatable. Some argue that disposables are cost effective and convenient to use. On the other hand,  environmentalists have raised alarm about the amount of waste generated as a result of these disposables and how they negate the very basics of sustainability. In 2019, Hainan followed Shanghai in calling on hotels to reduce the supply of disposable items in rooms, becoming the second region to introduce such an environmental protection initiative. Coming to the cleaning perspective, we asked three housekeepers to weigh the pros and cons of using disposables in hotel rooms. Here is what they had to say!


Pros and cons of disposables

Hotel disposables usually include small bottles of shampoo, bath gel, lotion, conditioner, soap, 

tooth brush, comb, razor, paper cups and covers, slippers, coasters and so on. Disposables come both with advantages and disadvantages; convenience to our life but also pollution to the environment. 

These items are bought by hotels in large quantities and are placed in guest rooms for free use. Customers do not always use them reasonably. Hence, each time the room is cleaned these items will have to be replaced, resulting thus in a lot of waste.

On top of this, since the outbreak of COVID-19, experts have noticed that waste and single use of plastic has skyrocketed.

The production of disposables consumes huge amounts of raw materials. Most of these materials are hard to decompose. Experts have shown that one million plastic garbage bags need 1000 years to decompose, leading to immeasurable consequences to the environment. Incinerating plastics causes toxic gases and dust that can cause serious air pollution.

Eliminating disposables in hotels will definitely lead to cost savings. On the other hand cancelling such items can cause guest dissatisfaction.

Challenges in discarding disposables

Such reasons could be:

  • Disposables create a feeling of a clean and hygienic environment.
  • Lack of environmental awareness. Not all hotel guests, operators or managers have reached a high level of understanding of the environment.
  • Consumers have not performed full-fledged green consumption habits. Hence the change is slow. 
  • Large hotel chains have started to announce plans of replacing small toiletry bottles with larger in-shower dispensers.

Yay or nay

In today’s world after the environment being so heavily affected by the extensive use of plastic, the use of hotel disposables should be eliminated. This measure is not easy to put into place. Travelers are not accustomed to bringing their own personal items. They rely on the small items provided by the hotels for free. 

With the increased development of the hotel industry there is a trend to focus much on environmental awareness.  By promoting customers to paying  attention to rational use of disposable items or even  eliminating some of those and having them available in the hotel for a price may eventually help in reducing excessive waste. 


Pros and cons of disposables

I say an organization’s long-term profitability is found where sound environmental and social practices are combined with good governance. Any global company must be responsible and part of the sustainability efforts to improve businesses and operations around the globe.

The use of disposable hygiene products in hotels often appears as a “less with more loss” phenomenon. The phenomenon of waste is serious, increasing the cost of the hotel. On the other hand, cheap disposable supplies are not only a consumption of resources, there are also many quality problems associated with them that affect guest experience and may even impact human health. 

Except for paper slippers, shampoo and body soap, there is a large surplus of other disposable items that are discarded before they are optimally used. These disposable items are generally very cheap and hotels will buy them in large quantities and place them in the hotel rooms, generally for free use by customers. At the same time, customers lack the concept of reasonable use of disposable supplies, such as combs, shoe shine cloths, small garbage bags, coasters, matches and other non-essential items will have a large balance, each time the cleaning of the room will reset these supplies, resulting in a lot of waste.

Having proper waste management mechanisms can result in the availability of valuable materials to reuse. This can save money while potentially creating new jobs and business opportunities. Reducing, reusing and recycling your waste are important for the environment, but it can also be profitable.

The hotel is like a temporary home for guests, it provides services to meet the needs of guests staying overnight, including the supply of various daily necessities, such as disposable toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, bath soap, slippers, combs and other "six small items", and some hotels even provide free disposable razors or women's cosmetics. 

These items are consumed in large quantities by different guests every day. Although some supplies such as razors are not all disposable and ready to use, but because they are personal items, hotels do not reuse them for hygiene and customer psychological considerations, so guests enjoy the convenience of the hotel while also causing a lot of waste and environmental pollution. 

The distinct benefits of using sustainable products in the hotel’s housekeeping process include healthier workers, fewer complaints from sensitive guests, cleaner and more sanitary rooms as well as lower housekeeping overhead. There are a number of different sustainability programs that have been adopted and implemented over the years some of which have become very popular due to their effectiveness which will be highlighted a bit later.

That being said, there may be some cause for concern as there are housekeepers who have not happily accepted these new programs as the implementation has made their jobs harder and in some instances may require them working reduced hours. 

Many modern guests are both environmentally engaged and self-sufficient which is why it’s so important to communicate your sustainability practices and encourage them to participate at their fullest.

If you give your guests the option to recycle they will do so, if you provide them with the opportunity to handle much of their own guest experience at your hotel, they will most certainly take it.

A hotel self-service app would allow them to check in and choose the services that they would need for their stay, while a self-service kiosk would help them in completing their registration and paying while also issuing their room’s keycard. Self-service applications are a huge relief to hotel paper waste as all transactions remain in the guest’s digital wallet where they can access them if needed.

Yay or nay

Green hotels are more than a trend. Nowadays companies will favor sustainable hotels for their events as part of their own branding with environmentally friendly practices. Private guests will also look at your business with new eyes as sustainable hotels are the epitome of innovation, proving that you can help yourself by doing the smart thing while helping preserve the environment.

Pros and cons of disposables

The pros of using disposables in hotel rooms include the ease of cleaning and maintaining hygiene. Disposable slippers, cream and tissue paper can immediately enhance each guest's lodging experience. In addition, storing disposable shampoo and conditioner is an easy way to help guests who may have forgotten or misplaced their own shampoo. Due to their small size, these products can provide enough quantity for a guest.

The cons include environmental concerns. Disposables are not sustainable and contribute environmental pollution and degradation by generating a lot of waste. 

In recent years, the world has been committed to the cause of sustainability and continues to implement strategies and scientific concepts to prevent environmental pollution and resource waste. However, everyone seems to be accustomed to the use of disposable items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and slippers in hotels. With the rapid development of the hotel industry, a large number of disposable items are being consumed, which has brought great pressure to the environment and does not meet the requirements of the concept of low-carbon economy and green development. 

In hotels, proper segregation of disposable waste upon daily cleaning is mandatory. We dispose of it through separate bins.  However, it is a dilemma for a housekeeper to make the decision between disposables and other options. One must take the impact of COVID-19 hygiene concerns into consideration as well as the carbon footprint we are leaving behind. 

Yay or Nay

It all depends on how the hotel wants to approach their guest and encourage them to participate in the green program. I would prefer to avoid disposables and have other green inanities instead.

Even though disposables are convenient to use and provide a sense of hygiene to the guest, the environmental damage they cause is beyond repair. Housekeeper’s dilemma is deepened as they strive to strike a balance between sustainability and guest satisfaction. Ultimately, awareness and education is the key to achieve this balance.