Biodegradable Water Bottles for U.S. Ritz-Carlton Hotels

Each year the Ritz-Carlton hotels use millions of 16 oz. plastic water bottles. Now they are replacing the plastic ones with biodegradable, plant-based versions. Reportedly the company manufacturing the new bottles is Prima.

The bottles will be made from corn plastic. There was quite a bit of press about the change. Lloyd Alter pointed out that, while the biodegradable bottles are compostable, such products are rarely composted, and they could still sit in landfills for centuries.

Also, Prima water apparently still comes from a tap, so why bottle it at all? Why not just have guests to the Ritz-Carltons in American drink tap water with a normal glass that can be washed and used repeatedly? The entire plastic water bottle trend hasn’t been good for the environment, and some tests have shown bottled water might contain more bacteria than tap water. So why the switch for the hotel chain?

The answer could be that the switch generated a lot of free press for the chain. The practice is known as green washing. Companies get attention for their new “green” ways, and yet with a little digging beneath the surface,  the practices might not exactly hold water, at least as well as assumed. Still, one could argue it is an improvement over using only all-plastic bottles. At least the new bottles have some chance of biodegrading, even if it takes centuries, whereas a plastic bottle might not ever completely degrade.

It should be clear this article is not bashing the hotel industry or Ritz-Carlton. Some consumers expect hotels to provide items of convenience and even freebies. Perhaps such a change maintains the status quo, with a small step in the right direction.

Image Credit: AZ Sustainability

94 comments

Elisa F.
Elisa F.3 years ago

A good step in the right direction. Thanks for sharing.

Kate B.
Kate A.4 years ago

Great idea, hope other businesses follow their example

Emma S.
Emma S.4 years ago

I'm reading this quite a long time after the event. I wonder how they're getting along now?

Inga P.
Past Member 5 years ago

good news for the environment

Linus Schönnings
Linus Schonnings5 years ago

it's a good first step but they still have long road to walk

Carolyn P.
C P.5 years ago

Yes a step in the right direction to at least not add so much to the floating islands of plastic in our seas.
Can someone tell me what exactly these containers made of, and if there are chemicals in them, are they harmless? and do the bottles dissolve eventually and how long will that take? Thanks.

Trish H.
Anne H.5 years ago

I travel and it bothers me how wastefull hotels can be. I prevent them from changing my linens. I ask for a glass to drink tap water. They are usually kind. I also carry my own water bottle and silveware and take out containers. I think if we keep nudging them their will be progress.

I'd like to see a amenity dispenser instead of those little pesky bottles. I've seen this before. I've also seen nice litte refillable types. It is progress.

I'd like to see reports each year of what has been recycled. The Novotel at CityGate in Hong Kong is one of the only hotels that recycles all of its glass among other things. So does the airport. Way to go!

Linda H.
Linda h.5 years ago

I'm with Lois K. I used to work at motels. The glasses in bags are not clean at all I used to just rinse them and then they are dried with a towel picked up off the floor. You can bring your own bottle as I do and forget the filthy glass. BTW the bedspreads and blankets are not too safe either.

Kay O.
Kay O.5 years ago

Hotels and big events that create and consume
should be doing more to decrease waste.

Phoebe Morgan
pj d.5 years ago

Baby steps... TY for the article Jake.