By: Carl Hunter (Property Manager)
The ongoing challenge to reduce and eliminate plastic and styrofoam.
Living in a small island state, the opportunities to reduce and eliminate plastic are not as readily available as they may be in North America and Europe. Even though it feels to us as if our resorts and each of us as individuals produce an enormous amount of recyclables, we as a country don’t produce enough to make recycling economically feasible. Also, we still lack some landmark legislation to further assist us in reducing importation of plastic and styrofoam.
Despite this we are ever mindful of the impacts of plastics on our environment. Our resorts Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain started their internal focus on reduction and elimination of plastics from its operations starting in 2015. We also paid attention to the need to protect reefs and the nearby shore environment around us.
Since then, we have made great strides not only in reducing and eliminating plastics but also in finding creative alternatives to plastics for food containers, cutlery, cups and straws.
First, we needed to create greater awareness among our resort teams of the detrimental effect of plastic and styrofoam on our environment. This led to the creation of our resorts’ environmental committee with many enthusiastic individuals now becoming the ambassadors for our cause.
We started issuing to our guests refillable water bottles and there are water filling stations strategically placed throughout the property
We requested that our purchasing department put an immediate stop to the purchasing of all plastic cups, plastic straws, plastic/styrofoam take-away containers and plastic cutleries. This rapidly caused us to seek out alternatives that were more conducive to sustainable practices and also tailored to ensuring that guest expectations were also maintained.
At our bars, we replaced the plastic straws with straws that are made of corn starch – fully biodegradable and compostable. The only exception are a few specialized drinks that require straws, like our “coco doux” for example. All other drinks are served with straws only on request. Our guests’ response to this has been wonderful as they comfortably “buy in” and embrace the initiative and support our actions.
Throughout our operations – from the team member canteen to take-out service for our guests – we removed styrofoam containers all together and invested in reusable melamine plates bowls etc. for the canteen. The few remaining employees whose work-stations are remotely located from the canteen now provide their own reusable Tupperware containers. For the guests’ take-out container needs, we have explored containers made from both corn starch and sugarcane bergasse. Both container types are excellent, serve exactly the same purpose and yet are biodegradable and compostable.
Plastic cutlery was then looked at and we realized that although the use was minimal we still however had an opportunity. So we changed to all metal cutlery within the staff facilities and to wooden cutlery for guest take-away food. Again this was immediately embraced by our guests as the change to wooden cutlery was both a visual and practical enhancement to the traditional flimsy plastic alternative.
As we now move forward we are about to launch our own bottled water program for both still and sparkling water which will eliminate the remaining consumable plastics within our operations.
And also, we have finally identified an amenities program we like and which enables us to use larger, attractive containers and get away from the smaller bottles.