Bill would ban single-use plastic toiletries from New York hotels

Photos by William Alatriste
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, at lectern, introduces a bill to ban single-use plastic toiletry containers in New York hotels.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, at lectern, introduces a bill to ban single-use plastic toiletry containers in New York hotels. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Hotels in New York would need to swap their single-use shampoos, conditioners and other toiletries for more sustainable, environmentally friendly options under a new state bill introduced by Sen. Todd Kaminsky on Wednesday.

The legislation has the backing of the Hotel Association of New York City and the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association. Kaminsky, a Democrat who represents parts of Long Island, said small actions like banning single-use plastic in hotels can amount to a much larger positive impact on the environment.

“With Washington asleep at the wheel, New York must take bold action to protect our planet and promote sustainable solutions," the senator said Wednesday. "By barring hotels from giving single-use plastic toiletries to customers, we are safeguarding our environment, and mitigating plastic waste and waterway pollution.”

New York City is home to more than 630 hotel properties with a combined 115,530 rooms, according to Kaminsky’s office. By their estimates, the bill would prevent about 27.4 million single-use plastic bottles from ending up in city trash cans and recycling bins every year.

Some hotel companies have already instituted their own environmentally friendly policies. InterContinental Hotels Group, which operates the Holiday Inn, and Marriott International, have announced plans to use in-shower dispensers instead of single-use plastic shampoo and other toiletries.

Marriott, which unveiled its policy shift in August, said it estimates the move will prevent about 500 million small plastic toiletry bottles from being thrown away every year.

The legislation, if passed, would require larger hotels with 50 rooms or more to phase-out single-use toiletries by Jan. 1, 2023. Smaller hotels would have until Jan. 1, 2024. The ban would apply to single-use plastic personal care products such as shampoo, conditioner, lotion and hand soap.

"This legislation will help ensure that the industry has a smooth transition to bulk use or non-plastic products by giving hotels time to exhaust their current stock of products, and make decisions that are environmentally friendly, cost effective, and aesthetically pleasing for guests," said Mark Dorr, president of the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association, which helped draft the bill.

A hotel caught violating the ban would first receive a written warning and 30 days to comply. A second violation would result in a $250 fine and the amount increases to $500 for every citation after that. Any hotel accused of violating the ban would be afforded a hearing before the penalty is enforced, according to the legislation.

All civil fines collected via the ban would be put into the Environmental Protection Fund.