Hotel rooms in Hawaii might soon be without those small plastic bottles that hold liquids and creams, such as shampoo, conditioner and body wash.

A joint-panel of House lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday morning requiring that “single-use toiletries” be replaced with more environmentally conscious dispensing systems.

House Bill 1645, the small bottles ban, still needs to clear two more committees before it makes it to a floor vote in the 51-member House.

If the bill passes, the ban will begin Jan. 1, 2025, for lodging establishments with more than 50 rooms and Jan. 1, 2027, for those with fewer than 50 rooms.

“Personally, I know my dad will compulsively take and save the little toiletries no matter where they stay because it’s free, so my parents’ house has a drawer full of mini shampoos and conditioners that no one ever uses, but it’s so unnecessary,” said Rep. Nicole Lowen, chairwoman of the House Energy and Environmental Protection committee and one of the introducers of the bill.

Beachgoers and visitors enjoy the sunshine in Waikiki during a surge in Covid-19 cases. Today we had 4789 Covid-19 positive cases reported. January 5, 2022.
Hawaii lawmakers are seeking a ban on single-use plastic bottles used for toiletries at most lodging establishments in the state. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

In 2018, landfills received 27 million tons of plastic, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Although plastics are found in all solid waste categories, plastic packaging and containers, like small bottles of personal care products, had the overall highest weight, with more than 14.5 million tons discarded.

HB 1645’s prohibition of “single-use toiletries” refers to shampoo, conditioner, bath soap and the like.

In 2019, California passed a similar bill, AB-1162.

That same year, Marriott International began its first global initiative to swap out single-use bottles for pump dispensers at more than 1,000 Mariott hotels. The company expects the initiative to eventually prevent 500 million small bottles from ending up in landfills each year.

Rep. Richard Onishi, chairman of the House Labor and Tourism Committee, said there’s more concern over the small bottles on neighbor islands. If the contents in these single-use bottles are not fully expended they are not considered recyclable, and so they end up in a landfill. Whereas on Oahu, they may be incinerated.

“Eliminating these single-use bottles would benefit both situations, one: it wouldn’t go into a landfill, and two: whatever is in the bottle won’t contaminate the ground,” Onishi said.

Kekoa McClellan, a spokesman for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said many large hotel operators in Hawaii are already adhering to provisions in HB 1645.

“Some of the larger brands have been working towards these changes for many, many decades now,” McClellan said in an interview.

Lauren Bickley, the Surfrider Foundation’s Hawaii regional manager, stated in written testimony that a single 200-room four-star hotel can use about 300,000 pieces of single-use plastic in one month when at full-capacity.

HB 1645 “will represent an important step towards eliminating unnecessary single-use plastics and improving the sustainability of the hospitality industry in Hawaii,” Bickley said.

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