Step 2 : Prioritising single-use plastics to tackle

Time :

To be mobilised : Project point of contact, people from each department and management team for 2.3.

With clear objectives. a comprehensive diagnosis and full understanding of the local waste management system, you have all you need to tackle the second stage. Because the diagnosis is comprehensive and provides you with a complete view of your use of plastics, you may have the feeling that the task is an enormous one. Why not sequence the process over time to gauge the means and the work done? This is what we recommend, with a toolkit methodology that enables you to select plastics to be dealt with as a priority, because they are easy to eliminate and/or they have a major environmental impact.

2.1 Understand prioritisation straightaway

The method proposed means the context of the project promoter can be taken into account and cost-effectiveness can be optimised, especially with regard to reducing environmental impacts.

It enables 2 lists to be created:

1 – One “list of Single-Use Plastics (SUP) to process”, on which you will focus your attention;
2 – One “list of SUPs to discard” with which you will not continue working (or not right away!).

2.2 Conduct each process

1 – Include the SUPs for which an action is mandatory, as some plastics are subject to regulatory prohibition or forecasted to be prohibited.

2 – Eliminate the SUPs for which no action is possible. For some plastics, you may have no or very little margin for maneuver in the short term (eg. commitments already undertaken with your suppliers). Before rejecting them, make sure you really have no leverage! For example, with regard to the requirements of the group to which you belong perhaps, have you considered asking for an exemption? Position yourself as a pioneer and ask for exemptions: you will enable your group to develop its practices and reinforce
its impact!


Remove bathroom products and make them on-request? This seemed to them ambitious, pertinent but not very realistic given the standards of the IHG group. A request for exemptions and a few weeks later it had become reality! In fact final or temporary exemptions have been granted for making the following available on request i/bathroom products, ii/milk and iii/hot chocolate (via room service).

3 – Eliminate SUPs for which an action is not prioritised. Some plastics are recyclable and actually recycled. If they are separated in your establishment and collected, it means you need to be sure that there really is a recycling procedure for this plastic in your region. If there is, it means these are therefore not prioritised, and you can eliminate them from your selection.

4 – Include SUPs with the highest risk of escape into the environment. You can ask yourself these two questions:

  • Does this plastic have a “travel use”, ie. a strong likelihood of leaving the hotel depending on practices that are known about?
  • Does it have a “proven risk of escaping into the environment”? This means the plastics most commonly found on beaches, such as removable plastic parts, small, light plastic items of little value found and/or used outside.
    You can then include in the list of plastics for processing the ones that respond affirmatively to one or other of these questions.

CLOSEUP ON : waste items most commonly found on the beaches

It is difficult to establish a correlation between waste plastic found on the shore and products present in a particular establishment. However, cleaning our shorelines shows us that along France’s Mediterranean coast, cigarette butts, food packaging and bottles are the waste matter most commonly found on the beaches. The Surfrider association publishes a report on the subject every year here.

5 – Include the SUPs consumed in greater quantities. For maximum impact, you can include the top 10, 20 or 30 etc. of the plastics most consumed in your establishment – and discard the others.

2.3 Jointly approve single-use plastics to target

After the process of prioritisation above, either the number of SUPs for processing is suitable for you, or it is still too high. In the first case, this step will enable the choices to be approved jointly, and in the second, it will enable the final selection to be made. This is the opportunity to involve the hotel staff to the greatest possible extent. The criteria that can be examined by the group are economic criteria, criteria with regard to agreement by customers and criteria involving logistics or internal organisation. Some plastics can then be withdrawn from or added to the list.


We often have preconceived ideas about what customers may accept or not accept. Allow yourself the opportunity to test and welcome your customers’ opinions before making your decisions! Our experience at the InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu showed that changes put into effect (though deemed major by staff and management at the hotel) went unnoticed by customers (see 6.3 Interpreting results)

At the end of prioritisation, the overall coherence of selected products and packaging needs to be checked so as to be credible as far as customers are concerned (eg. making toothbrushes and toothpaste available on request but making cotton wool and nail files freely available could make the process less credible).