Hotel Brands

Whitbread pledges a ‘plastic-free’ future

Hospitality business Whitbread, owner of Premier Inn, has revealed “firm” plans to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic by 2025.

The first motion of the pledge is to change all christmas crackers in the run-up to Christmas. Plastic toys will be switched for wooden ones, and this step marks “just one element” in the pledge to go plastic-free. 

Whitbread, which operates hundreds of restaurants as well as the leading hotel chain, said it will be carrying out a “root and branch” review of its supply chain in order to identify all plastic and packaging, and find suitable alternatives to any single-use items.

“Hundreds of millions” of single-use plastic items are expected to be removed, including sauce sachets, nappy bags and food and textile packaging. 

It will work closely with suppliers to deem what products are unnecessary in the supply chain. If products are necessary for food safety purposes, or their removal will lead to unintended environmental consequences, products will still be reviewed in order to be reduced and replaced with recyclable alternatives.

The pledge, it said, will be the ‘most far-reaching in the hotel industry to date’.

Premier Inn managing director, Simon Ewins, said: “Whitbread has a long history of minimising the unnecessary use of single-use plastics.

“Premier Inn has never used miniature bath and shower products and we were one of the first businesses to eliminate plastic straws and stirrers, so we’ve already made huge steps, particularly in terms of consumer-facing plastics – this is just the start.

“In many ways, what we’re looking at now with our 2025 commitment is the less visible, less sexy stuff – the hard yards that collectively can make a huge difference.” 

He added: “It’s about forensically examining our supply chain and eliminating the use of unnecessary single-use plastics wherever we can – from the products consumers will notice, to those behind-the-scenes that they won’t, right down to wrappers on textiles. 

“As with any meaningful commitment to change – it won’t happen overnight but we’re unwavering in our belief that eliminating unnecessary single-use plastics is absolutely the right thing to do for our business, our guests and the environment.”

Last year Whitbread became the first company to ban the use of plastic straws and stirrers. 

Its latest plastic-free pledge forms part of its Force For Good sustainability programme. 

Other achievements through the programme include raising £15m for Great Ormond Street Hospital, a 50% reduction target in carbon emissions by 2025, and a training and development scheme with over 3,000 completed apprenticeships.


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