California Officially Washing Its Hands of Single-Use Plastic Toiletries in Hotels

In an attempt to save the earth, you’ll no longer be able to fill your pockets with tiny shampoo bottles at California hotels.
Updated April 11, 2024
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California Officially Washing Its Hands of Single-Use Plastic Toiletries in Hotels

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It’s undeniable that plastic pollution has developed into one of the most urgent environmental issues. According to National Geographic, single-use plastics account for 40 percent of the plastic produced every year, with half of all plastics ever manufactured having been made in the last 15 years alone.

In an attempt to reduce plastic pollution, California is banning the distribution of single-use plastic bottles in hotels with more than 50 rooms — that means no more tiny shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, and lotion.

The bill was signed into law on October 9th, 2019 by California Governor Gavin Newsom and the ban goes into effect on January 1, 2023. For hotels with 50 rooms or fewer, single-use amenities will be illegal beginning the following year, on January 1, 2024.

How did this ban on single-use bottles come to fruition?

The bill, which is officially called “AB-1162 Lodging establishments: personal care products: small plastic bottles,” passed the Natural Resources Committee back in April of this year and is modeled after a city ordinance adopted by Santa Cruz in 2018. It requires hotels, motels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals to eliminate the use of small, single-use plastic bottles of fewer than six ounces that contain personal care products. Instead, hotels and other lodging establishments are encouraged to use bulk dispensers.

The law comes as California officials continue to push to reduce the amount of plastic waste. The state already bans grocery stores from providing customers with single-use plastic bags. As reported by CBS, the author of AB-1162, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, said, “The amount of plastic produced is increasing exponentially, and we must consider all options to reduce this pollution from entering our waste streams. While it may not appear to be a problem on an individual level, small plastic bottles that are less than 12-ounces represent a sizeable amount of waste collectively that the state must address.”

Many of the major hotel chains have already implemented plans to eliminate single-use plastics, such as bottles, straws, and cocktail sticks. One of the largest initiatives underway is at Marriott International, which announced late in August it would eliminate single-use plastic bottles from all its properties by the end of 2020. The company estimates its initiative will prevent about 500-million small bottles from going into landfills each year — that’s roughly 1.7 million pounds of plastic no longer hitting the trash.

How you can reduce your carbon footprint while traveling

California is the first state to ban single-use hotel toiletries, and time will tell if it becomes a precedent that other states follow. New York state legislators are pushing for a similar ban that would prohibit hotels from offering single-use plastic toiletry bottles in guest rooms. But even without legislation, much of the travel industry has already started to make changes on their own, in addition to initiating various other sustainability projects.

Environmentally conscious travelers can contribute at an individual level by being more green while traveling. Simple measures like reusing towels and sheets for multiple days and reducing the overall number of items used during your stay can go a long way.

Additionally, you can focus on staying at eco-friendly hotels as you travel. This not only ensures you’re reducing your carbon footprint but also promotes the hotels that are reducing theirs as well. If you’re planning to travel, this table will give you an idea of which major hotel chains are taking initiatives to create a sustainable impact wherever they do business:

Hotel chain Single-use policy Larger initiative
Marriott International Expects to replace single-use plastic bottles with larger bottles across all properties by December 2020 Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction
Hilton Hotel and Resorts As of April 23, 2019, eliminated use of plastic straws from its UAE hotels, with commitments to remove plastic straws, stir sticks, and cocktail picks from all 5,600+ hotels globally this year

Eliminated plastic water bottles used in meetings and event spaces with plans to completely remove plastic water bottles from meetings and events in hotels across Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.

Travel With Purpose
Hyatt Hotel Corporation Announced July 9, 2018, to eliminate single-use plastic straws and drink picks globally with straws and picks only available on request since September 1, 2018 2020 Environmental Sustainability Vision
IHG Announced July 30, 2019, its commitment to switching from single-use bathroom amenities to bulk size across entire hotel estate by 2021 IHG Green Engage system
Wyndham Announced September 19, 2019, that it would eliminate plastic straws and other single-use plastic from food and beverage operations at Wyndham Destinations resorts globally by end of 2020 Environmental Sustainability Policy Statement

If you're planning to travel to California, you can refer to this reference to know what to expect. You may also be able to earn additional nights and other perks if you choose the best hotel credit card with your favorite chain. Credit cards are an excellent way to enhance your experience, but be sure to compare offers to find the best travel credit card for you. 

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Matt Miczulski Matt Miczulski is a personal finance writer specializing in financial news, budget travel, banking, and debt. His interest in personal finance took off after eliminating $30,000 in debt in just over a year, and his goal is to help others learn how to get ahead with better money management strategies. A lover of history, Matt hopes to use his passion for storytelling to shine a new light on how people think about money. His work has also been featured on MoneyDoneRight and

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