Bathroom amenities are no longer just a nice little treat left for the guest’s benefit and use. Those small, individual bottles of shampoo and soap have come under attack in recent years as one of the biggest perpetrators of excess waste in our landfills. In fact, according to Pat Maher, green consultant for the American Hotel and Lodging Association, half a million of these small bottles wind up in landfills every day! Some hotels rise to the occasion with biodegradable plastic bottles.
However, most of those small containers continue onto the landfill. And despite the best of intentions, without proper decomposing conditions, these bottles will continue to fill landfill space and contribute to methane emissions during decomposition.
Permanent, refillable dispensing units are one solution in the marketplace and are evident in various hotels. The benefits are enormous. Besides the obvious plus of providing lower-cost bulk purchasing for your bathroom shampoos and soaps, you have the additional benefit of less housekeeping time; eliminating individual clean-up from left-over bottles and the constant need to restock carts and rooms with individual amenity bottles. And the environmental savings are huge! When you think that worldwide, hotels dispose of more than 10 billion amenity bottles a year, with most of them only partially used at best – the continued use of small bottles is almost criminal!
The Other Side of the Coin
Those are all the positive aspects of refillable containers. But after the first flush of interest and use of refillable soap dispensers comes a new awareness, and some totally different challenges become apparent. First of all – the actual upkeep and refilling is sometimes messier and more labor intensive than putting out a few self-contained little bottles. Many of the units leak and refilling them can be messier than expected with undo product waste as well.
But the big and unexpected issue is one of contamination. In fact, according to a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, there is a “25 times increase in germs on hands after washing with contaminated refillable bulk soap.” How does this happen? When those who are refilling and or using the containers have bacteria on their hands, the rarely cleaned nozzle is easily contaminated. And when the container is refilled, the open container is a convenient resting ground for airborne bathroom germs. Because the container is easily accessible, bugs and other items have an easy entry, as well.
So if bulk containers are so problematic – what IS the answer?
Well the best way to go is to use a unit that offers a sealed soap system. Look around you the next time you go into a healthcare facility and you’ll realize that’s exactly what is being used. These hermetically sealed refills keep germs out, starting in the factory and continuing onto the restroom. And every new refill comes with a fresh nozzle. Also eliminated is the problem of leaky valves.
There are a few choices in the market place, but it’s a bit more difficult to find one that is both sanitary AND attractive. Our favorite choice so far is the ILLI Cartridge Dispensing Unit; ECO Label certified for using green practices and a green liquid product. Besides an attractive unit that eliminates the need to even touch the nozzle, the system uses a replaceable cartridge that is easy to install and made from recycled plastic. When empty, they equal a mere 1 oz. of biodegradable plastic. The cartridges typically last four weeks. So compared to standard amenities where there are 3-4 bottles being thrown out every day, the dispenser reduces the amount of plastic thrown away by 90%. This is equivalent to roughly 8,740 lbs. that is saved from the garbage for a 180-room hotel, not to mention the significant savings in reduced product handled by the hotel and the associated cost of fuel for product transportation.
Use a sanitary sealed system, and you eliminate landfill waste by more than 90%. And the benefit to your bottom line will have you singing; decreased amenity cost by up to 40%.
With the front plate totally customizable, you can create a unique look exclusive to your hotel brand, making ILLI Cartridge Dispensing Units not only cost-saving and eco-friendly, but a nice design touch as well.
ILLI Cartridge Dispensing Units are a product of Amenitique Inc. Look for the ILLI America website, www.illiamerica.com, with all information, hotel savings and photos to be up and running in the coming weeks.
Contributor: Wen-D Kersten is the editor and contributor to a number of green blogs and websites including GreenBuildTV, GreeningtheInn and theGreenLeafInn.
This article first appeared on GreeningtheInn.com.
Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.