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What does the EU’s Plastic Directive imply for hosts, hotels, restaurants and event organizers? 

In December 2015, the EU Commission presented the "EU Action Plan for a Circular Economy". It identified plastic as one of the main concerns and such as a field of action. The initiative was followed in January 2018 by the "Plastics in a Circular Economy Strategy" with the ambitious goal of making all plastic waste recyclable by 2030. In May 2018, the EU directive "on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment" was presented. At the end of 2018, the EU Parliament approved the proposal. After the formal adaptation and inclusion in the EU Official Journey, the member states will have two years to integrate the provisions of the directive into their legislation. 

The regulations in brief:

  • Following plastic products will be banned: drinking straws, stirrers, cotton swabs, disposable dishes and plates, balloon sticks
  • The consumption of the following products is to be strongly reduced in particular by consumer education: Disposable food containers and drinking cups
  • For the following products, manufacturers are to be made more accountable: balloons, liquid containers, packaging materials, cigarette butts, wet wipes, plastic bags

What do the EU's ambitions mean for hosts, hotels, restaurants, bars, festivals, events?
Plastic waste has been identified as a problem. The projects initiated so far only mark the beginning. It should be assumed that further legislation will follow. Every plastic convenience product not yet mentioned in the Directive might become the target of bans, reductions or information campaigns in the future. Products such as: 

  • hotel slippers
  • hotel room amenity sets (shoe polish, sewing kit, ...) 
  • amenity sets in the bathroom (individually packed shower cap, nail arrows, cotton pads, toothpaste) 
  • small shampoo, shower gel, conditioner and body lotion bottles
  • mini packages of sugar, salt, pepper, chocolate, jam, butter, other spreads
  • shot glasses, confetti, light sticks, decorative articles 

Furthermore, it can be assumed that in the future companies will have to take over global responsibility for their supply chains in order to avoid risks such as penalties or warnings. The avoidance of unnecessary plastic waste finds a broad social consensus. This observation is one many hosts would agree to: guests have long started complaining about plastic straws and bottles and appreciating hosts who have found alternatives. According to Eurobarometer, 94% of Europeans think that both industry and commerce should contribute to the prevention of plastic. Guests can directly influence a host’s level of responsibility through their purchasing decisions. If negative comments and complaints accumulate, hosts take on the task and look for solutions to the convenience-plastic dilemma.

Using “better” types of plastics such as bio-plastic is often not sufficient - after all, it still looks like plastic and only shifts the (disposables) problem. Rather, it is about holistic solutions that minimize the consumption of resources and feed products into cycles - for example through multiple use as with deposit systems. "Biodegradable" disposables are problematic for two reasons: First, many municipalities do not have a composting infrastructure, which is why the products are still incinerated in the end. Secondly, natural resources are needed to manufacture the products. These can compete with arable land for growing food, be sourced from non-transparent sources or fuel social conflict in the respective areas.

As an authority directly entrusted with guest satisfaction, it is the responsibility of the host to continually optimise its supply chains and adapt them to the demands of guests and society. Those who have outsourced their purchases to purchasing companies or agencies naturally have less influence on the products with which their guests or employees come into contact. However, buyers will only correct their course if hosts set the decisive impulses and express their desire for plastic alternatives.

The competition for plastic-free guest concepts is intensifying and at the same time offers the opportunity to stand out. Consistent sustainability and a special focus on what modern guests appreciate lead to a differentiated and attractive offer. Guests will choose hosts who care about their well-being, meet their needs for new material and non-material experiences, suggest new behaviors, inspire their creativity and fulfill their desire to belong. Those who act only after legal regulations leave no other option miss the chance to be perceived as authentic and proactive. Especially when others have already set the tone. 

The importance of the EU directive on the avoidance of disposable plastics should hardly be underestimated. The pressure is there. Every day, hosts and their products encounter a large number of consumers. And they look closely. Hosts should use the signs from Brussels to optimize their products and processes. How can I avoid plastic? Where can I use it again? What are the alternatives? These questions go hand in hand with the search for really good guest experiences. Because today they can do without disposable plastic. 


At TUTAKAs marketplace, hosts will find sustainable alternatives to conventional convenience products. A few examples:

TUTAKA enables sustainable hospitality. The company from Hamburg pursues a holistic approach: on a digital marketplace hoteliers, restaurateurs, bars, event and festival organisers can find a wide range of sustainable and innovative OS&E, products and service providers that inspire guests and employees. Workshops provide advice on communication, product design, future markets and value chains. Hosts are to be inspired and guided to develop pro-active and individual strategies that offer real added value and differentiation.

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Plastic is to be found in every square metre of our oceans. The exhibition Over Flow at the MAAT was commissioned by the Portugese museum to draw attention to the proliferation of plastic debris in our oceans. Tadashi Kawamata fills the museum with plastic to warn about ocean debris. 
(Photo: Martijn Baudoin)

On TUTAKAs marketplace hosts find good alternatives to the conventional convenience products, amongst others straws from bamboo, straw and glass.