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Holiday Inn owner ditching mini shampoos to cut plastic pollution

The fight to save the seas from plastic waste may mean the end for mini bottles of shampoo and other toiletries that hotel guests love to stuff into their luggage.

Chain uses an average of 200 million bathroom miniatures every year

Holiday Inn and InterContinental Hotels is switching from small bottles to refillable dispensers for soap and shampoo in its guest bathrooms over the next two years in an effort to cut waste. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

The fight to save the seas from plastic waste may mean the end for mini bottles of shampoo and other toiletries that hotel guests love to stuff into their luggage.

The owner of Holiday Inn and InterContinental Hotels said Tuesday that its nearly 843,000 guest rooms are switching to bulk-size bathroom amenities as part of an effort to cut waste. The transition is due to be completed in 2021.

"Switching to larger-size amenities across more than 5,600 hotels around the world is a big step in the right direction and will allow us to significantly reduce our waste footprint and environmental impact as we make the change," said InterContinental Hotels Group chief executive Keith Barr.

IHG, which uses an average of 200 million bathroom miniatures every year, said customers expect them to act responsibly.

And there is little doubt that public awareness of the problem of plastic waste has been swelling amid alarming forecasts that there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

Besides that, shocking images keep hammering the point home. Notable campaigns included one by Britain's Sky News, which showed whales bloated by plastic bags when the creatures were cut open after dying. Further trash horrors were underscored by TV naturalist David Attenborough, whose documentary "Blue Planet II" delivered heartbreaking shots of sea turtles shrouded in plastic.

And where consumers' attention goes, so does that of companies.

Amcor, L'Oreal, Mars, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Walmart and Werner & Mertz are among the companies that have committed to move, where relevant, from single-use to reusable packaging by 2025, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an innovation think-tank.

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