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