Step 3 : Remove, reduce, replace: a look around the options

Time :

To be mobilised : project point of contact, people from each department.

You have chosen the plastics that you want to remove as a priority. It is now time for action! The purpose now is to understand the needs which these products and packaging meet in order to remove non-essential Single-Use Plastics (SUPs), to reduce consumption of other ones and to replace those you need with alternatives with less environmental impact.

3.1 Understand the issues with regard to use

To steer the search for alternatives, the issues with regard to use need to be understood: why and how did this plastic get there?

To answer this question, speak to staff from the departments concerned, who may be able to help you track the past of the SUPs and follow their journey closely, from entering the hotel to leaving it. It is important to see or understand who interacts with the item at each stage, with regard both to customers and staff.

Standard questions:

  • In which areas is this plastic present?
  • How is it supplied?
  • Who handles it?
  • How is it used? (eg. provide details about use for each of the areas in which it is present)
  • What needs does it serve? (eg. a need with regard to the hotel’s range or the group’s range, health, single serving)
  • How is it discarded or separated?


Record all the information collected about the selected plastics, and if possible refer back to data pertaining to orders (stock ordered and remaining stock, prices, weights etc.) to facilitate the later stage of impact gauging.

3.2 Remove, reduce before substitution

Before starting to search for alternatives, allow time to analyse all SUPs, starting from the initial need each one serves. Then ask yourself whether it can be removed, or its use reduced (eg. moved to “on request”). Removing or reducing is far and away the most effective way of lessening your environmental impact, while enabling savings to be made! At the InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu, making items from the welcome tray and bathroom kits available on request has lowered their consumption by an average of 50%.

Here is a simple and effective decision tree for always promoting removal and reduction
if possible:


Needs that they meet: drinking a hot chocolate, for immediate use on-site. Functions of packaging: conservation, hygiene. Handling: ease of handling for staff.
Use of capsules: customers help themselves, with a serving which is pre-specified by the packaging itself.

Can these needs be met differently?
Our example: remove capsules and provide a hot chocolate through room service.
Feedback: reduction in plastic, high-quality drink, hygienic conditions, few requests in summer and less customers in winter, so no overload for service staff.
Co-benefit: cut in workload of cleaning staff, who do not have to check and replace used capsules.

Against all expectations, the test showed that the movements of room service staff bringing drinks to rooms are totally manageable.

Marie-Aude Tulpain, head of catering at the InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu

NOS CONSEILS : Good practices that are easy to implement for health products

Only provide them when requested or provide them as an option when the booking is made.

If they have to be present and/or you have not been given an exemption, put them:

  • Far from the washbasin to make sure they don’t get wet if they are not used.
  • In a drawer or high up to encourage customers to use their own products.

3.3 Listing alternative solutions for single-use plastics to replace

If its use does not allow for removing or reducing SUPs, you can give thought to solutions involving re-employing or substituting the material. This therefore means considering the range of possible ethical alternatives, which should be preferably local too. Various alternatives to SUPs can be noted and entered in a table.

Information to collect for each alternative:

  • What is the type of alternative specified? What is it made of?
  • What change of experience does it represent for the hotel and for customers?
  • What will it be used for?
  • What will happen to the alternative at end of life and how will it be managed? If the material alternative is destined to become waste, you need to check whether a satisfactory recycling and recovery option exists.
  • Who are the suppliers and where are they based?
  • How much does the alternative cost and what is the price difference compared with the original product?

This information will be useful for you to then decide on the most suitable solutions!


Look towards your colleagues who have already started on a similar process and who can share their solutions, suppliers and feedback with you. Various good practice guides refer to alternatives to (see ‘Sources and resources’).

Don’t forget to involve your procurement teams as soon as possible and to speak to your suppliers, as they may have a packaging-free product range!

Don’t forget to collect two pieces of information that are vital for environmental analysis: the composition of the alternative product and the location of the supplier.

Remember to think about the different areas and possible modulations (restaurant, rooms, suites). For example, the hotel InterContinental
Marseille – Hotel Dieu first tested the sugar bowls at the breakfast buffet before the rooms.