Hyatt Hotels Corporation has announced that it will remove straws and drink picks from its properties worldwide, and beginning Sept. 1, the single-use plastics will only be available by request. With the decision, Hyatt becomes the latest brand to do so, joining hospitality brands such as Marriott International, Hilton, Royal Caribbean and others -- as well as companies including Starbucks. The day after Hyatt made its announcement, American Airlines announced that it would replace all plastic straws from its lounges and replace them with bio-degradable straws.
For groups holding their events at Hyatt properties, the brand has promised that "eco-friendly alternatives" will be available. Hyatt emphasized in its release that this move was part of the brand's broader sustainability efforts, including purchasing criteria that its suppliers and distributors have sustainable policies in place and that the company itself reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per square meter by 25 percent compared to 2006.
"At Hyatt, we care for people so they can be their best, and this care extends to our communities and to preserving resources for future generations. Eliminating plastic straws and drink picks builds on the environmental sustainability programs we have in place and further drives our global efforts to reduce environmental impact," Frank Lavey, senior vice president, global operations for Hyatt, said in a statement. "This is a meaningful step, and our commitment doesn't stop with straws and drink picks. We will continue exploring viable alternatives everywhere we can."
The decision comes amid growing public awareness that eight metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean annually, damaging the ecosystem and sea life, fueled by social media such as the hashtag #StopSucking and viral YouTube video of a sea turtle having a plastic straw pulled from its nostrils (which has been viewed more than 30 million times). Cities such as Oakland, Calif. and New York City as well as states like California and Hawaii are also moving forward with straw-banning legislation.
The abandonment of single-use plastics comes at a time when there is a growing call for event planners to reduce food waste and cut back on disposable items when possible. Earlier this year, sustainable conference management agency MeetGreen's Director of Sustainability, Eric Wallinger, urged planners to join in this effort by having plastic straws "available by request only" and using "as much durable wear, glass and china as possible." When Hilton announced it would remove plastic straws from its hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa it also declared that it would remove plastic water bottles from meetings and events as part of its Meet with Purpose program.