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July 24, 2018

Supplier News: Marriott, Wynn Make Sustainability Moves

It's been another big week for sustainable events. Here's what you need to know. 

Marriott to Ban Plastic Straws

Big news in sustainable events: Marriott International, which, at more than 6,500 properties across 30 brands worldwide, is the largest hotel company in the world, is banning plastic straw. The luxury Oetker Collection also announced its own plastic ban this week. 

Marriott just announced a plan to remove disposable plastic straws and plastic stirrers from all of its properties by July 2019; once fully implemented, the company said that the plan could eliminate the use of more than 1 billion plastic straws per year and approximately a quarter billion stirrers. These plastics never fully decompose, Marriott noted.

The initiative will apply to both Marriott’s managed and franchise properties. Before next July, Marriott said that its owners and franchisees will move to deplete their existing supply of plastic straws, identify alternate straw sources and educate staff. As part of the plan, hotels will offer alternative straws upon request. Marriott is also eliminating plastic straws from its corporate headquarters.

Also this week the Oetker Collection announced that it is banning a number of plastic items, effective immediately, in all 10 of its hotels. The banned items are: 

*Plastic straws
*Plastic spoons
*Plastic cups
*Plastic glass cover in rooms
*Plastic wrappings of individual sugar cubes
*Plastic Q-tips/cotton swabs

Other notable sustainability initiatives undertaken by Marriott recently include a move, started earlier this year, to replace small toiletry bottles in guest bathrooms of about 450 select service hotels with larger, in-shower dispensers, reducing waste. The new toiletry dispensers are expected to be in place at more than 1,500 hotels in North America by the end of this year, which would enable Marriott to eliminate more than 35 million small plastic toiletry bottles annually that typically go to landfills.

Last year, the company set sustainability and social impact goals that call for reducing landfill waste by 45 percent and responsibly sourcing its top 10 product purchase categories by 2025. These goals and other sustainability programs help reduce our environmental footprint and are part of the company’s Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction initiative that addresses social, environmental, and economic issues.

The move to eliminate plastic straws makes Marriott the largest hotel company thus far to do so. Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts, Meliá Hotels International and Iberostar Hotels & Resorts all have similar plans in place, while Hilton has previously said it is moving to eliminate plastics at its Asia-Pacific properties by the end of the year.

Wynn Las Vegas Earns Four Green Globes

More big sustainability news out of Las Vegas: Wynn Las Vegas has announced that it has earned Four Green Globes, the highest certification given by the Green Building Initiative, a nonprofit organization that stimulates approaches to creating energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable buildings.  

To receive Four Green Globes, dozens of key environmental performance metrics were reviewed at both Wynn and Encore covering energy use and efficiency, water conservation, heating and cooling, waste management, emissions and pollution control, and many more. As part of the extensive on-site evaluation process, an independent third party inspected almost eight million square feet of facilities, including all common areas, guest rooms and suites, employee back-of-house areas, mechanical rooms, and exterior spaces.

The most recent energy advancement was the opening of the Wynn Solar Field in June 2018, a dedicated 160-acre solar energy facility that is offsetting up to seventy-five percent of the resort's peak power requirements, the largest percentage of renewable energy used by any resort in Las Vegas. The Wynn Solar Field will eventually be used to power the resort's new 280,000 square foot meetings and convention space expansion with 100 percent renewable energy.

Photo by ipopba/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

New "Smart Rooms" in China's InterContinental Hotels

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts is rolling out AI-powered “smart rooms” developed in partnership with Chinese language Internet search provider Baidu. The rooms have debuted at the InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun and InterContinental Guangzhou Exhibition Centre, with plans calling for them to roll out at InterContinental hotels in gateway cities and key destinations across China within the year.

Aimed at using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the customer experience, the smart rooms will incorporate AI-powered voice controls that InterContinental says will deliver a more natural human-computer interactive experience. Guests will be able to switch settings between work and leisure modes, as well as enjoy a more convenient room service experience. The solution will also extend to the hotel’s backstage management system, including customizing information and resetting devices.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), InterContinental’s parent company, inked a partnership with Baidu on AI development last November. The AI powering the smart rooms is a custom solution powered by Baidu’s DuerOS Platform. In the future, IHG and Baidu said they will continue to explore further intelligent hospitality solutions.

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