Marriott International's U.S. operation is phasing out its all-plastic card keys for hotel rooms and introducing a new version made of 50 percent recycled material that will gradually replace the 24 million plastic keys the company buys each year for use in this country.
The hotel chain is rolling out the new card keys as old ones are retired or hotels need their supplies replenished. All told the effort is expected to prevent 66 tons of plastic from being dumped into landfills.
In announcing the change in its key, Marriott also took the opportunity to detail other efforts to scale up its green profile by addressing its supply chain.
The hotel company is now buying:
o - "Eco-Smart" bed pillows, which are filled with polyester microfiber made from 100 percent recycled PET bottles and will replace the 100,000 synthetic pillows the company buys each year.
o - Coreless toilet paper made of recycled fiber, which is coming to 500 hotels. Knock out the cardboard cylinder in the center and you save 119 trees, almost 3 million gallons of water and 21 tons of packaging waste each year, says the firm. The new TP is made of 20 to 40 percent recycled fiber and now each roll will have 800 sheets instead of 500.
o - Recycled products for most customer-facing paper goods: card key sleeves, the folders for room bills, stationery and the like.
The hotel also said 43 tons of oxo-biodegradable plastic laundry bags, which are expected to disintegrate in two to five years, are now being bought each year by 100 hotel properties in the Middle East and Europe.
The phase-in of the new products follows an announcement Marriott made in the spring, when it began replacing ballpoint pens with BIC Ecolutions pens made from pre-consumer recycled plastic, stocking up on low-VOC paint and purchasing "room-ready" towels that do not have to be washed before their first-time use in guest rooms.
The significance becomes more apparent after a closer look at the chain's shopping list which counts most purchases in units of at least a million — pens used each year: 47 million; paint: more than one million gallons; ditto for new towels.
Marriott provides more details about its environmental initiatives here.
About the those green keys ... the Boulder, Colo., firm Sustainable Cards debuted its biodegradable key card, made from what it described as sustainably harvest wood, for the Democratic National Convention this year.
Some 70,000 hotel card keys made by the firm were distributed.
The company estimates that the average 200-room hotel goes through about 12,000 non-biodegradable plastic keys a year.