Benchmark joins less-plastic movement

Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., will be eliminating single-use plastics in 2019. Photo credit: Benchmark, a global hospitality company (A swimming pool with a hotel in the background)

Benchmark, a global hospitality company, is initiating a program to reduce the use of plastics in all 80 of its hotels, resorts and conference centers, starting in 2019. The project, Single Use Plastic Reduction, will combine technology, comprehensive policies and procedures, introduction of new, sustainable products and a messaging program to educate hotel staff and guests on the importance of the initiative.

“Benchmark is targeting three items first—cocktail picks, coffee stirrers and especially, plastic straws,” Patrick Berwald, Benchmark’s VP of food and beverage, said in a statement. “It’s just the beginning of our journey into sustainability in all areas of food and beverage.”

Last year, Benchmark properties used 2.8 million plastic straws, 1.7 million plastic stirrers and 120,000 plastic cocktail picks. As an interim effort until all plastic straws are replaced with paper, Benchmark properties are providing straws only on request. Future efforts will address other unsustainable items such as pizza boxes, Styrofoam and plastic coffee lids.

Benchmark has secured a supplier that will provide the required number of items, including paper straws, that are BPA and chemical free, and products made from renewable sources such as bamboo and wood. In addition to availability, hotels must ensure proper disposal of these goods and introduce quality control of the products and their use.

The messaging program will use a variety of digital technologies, staff training programs and a public relations campaign to disseminate the message and ensure positive participation, Berwald said.