Hospitality giants Sandals Resorts International (SRI) and Caesars Entertainment have joined the growing, cross-sector fight against single-use plastics with ambitious phase-out plans for plastic straws and stirrers.
This week, SRI announced that all 19 Sandals and Beaches Resorts across seven Caribbean islands — Jamaica, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, Barbados and Turks & Caicos — aim to eliminate the 21,490,800 single-use plastic straws and stirrers used across the resorts each year by November 1, 2018. Paper straws will be available upon request.
“Love is at the crux of all Sandals Resorts, and this love extends to the oceans and communities around them,” said Adam Stewart, Deputy Chairman of Sandals Resorts International. “We care deeply about our commitment to preserving both marine wildlife and human health within the many beautiful islands we’re connected to. Eliminating single-use plastic straws and stirrers is only the beginning of our journey toward helping create a plastic-free sea in the region we call home,” he added.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Sandals Resorts International, the first all-inclusive brand to join our mission,” said Lea d'Auriol, founder of Oceanic Global. “Seventy percent of our world is made up of oceans. It’s critical that we take steps to protect this precious resource – and Sandals is sending the message to companies with a major presence along ocean shores that they have a responsibility to take action, and that preserving ocean health can be both efficient and effective,” she added.
This initiative is part of a larger effort to reduce plastic waste in the Caribbean region, where the Caribbean Sea connects more than 700 islands and coastlines that draw more than 30 million visitors each year. Sandals Resorts is already invested in environmental sustainability. The Sandals Foundation, the philanthropic arm of SRI, has intensified efforts to reduce plastic pollution in the Caribbean and educate communities on the dangers plastic pollution poses to the environment, health and tourism. The Sandals Foundation’s recent initiatives include distributing reusable water bottles in schools across the Caribbean to reduce the use of disposable bottles among school children, delivering reusable tote bags to supermarkets across the region, and instituting a Solid Waste Reduction Project in Jamaica’s South Coast to clean up the communities and educate residents on how to properly manage their waste.
“Plastic pollution is one of the leading environmental issues in the Caribbean. Sandals and Beaches Resorts are rooted in oceanfront communities, and we are committed to protecting our marine wildlife, developing effective conservation practices, and teaching the next generation the importance of caring for their communities,” said Heidi Clarke, Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation.
Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment says it has begun phasing out the nearly 200 million straws used per year across its 33 US properties, with plans to extend the ban to all 53 of its destinations across the globe.
As of now, straws and stirrers are only available upon request at Caesars’ US casinos, and sustainable alternatives are available in select locations. However, as part of the next phase of this removal, all U.S. locations will only have sustainable options. The company has not established a timeline for the phase-out; rather, it says it will assess the plan as it develops.
“Eliminating single-use plastic straws and stirrers builds upon our pre-existing sustainability commitment and further accelerates our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Ryan Voss, Caesars’ VP of Corporate Beverage. “Our passion for sustainability doesn’t just start and stop at straws, though — we’re always looking to reduce our environmental impact and find innovative solutions that aid in that mission without compromising the quality of our guests’ experience.”