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How to reduce packaging waste in your tourism business

Packaging waste is clogging the oceans. Here’s how tourism businesses can help clean up.

Published 30 October 2023

By 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish – half of that will be single-use plastic.

Since the tourism and hospitality industry is responsible for 150 million tons of single-use plastic a year, it can help to significantly reduce the amount of rubbish that ends up in oceans and landfills.

The trick is to eliminate single-use plastics and plastic packaging from your business and operating systems.

Here are 6 easy ways to reduce your packaging waste:

(As well as a nifty single-use plastic checklist to keep you on track)

    • Ditch single-use plastic. Tiny shampoo, soap, and lotion bottles might be convenient, but they produce heaps of unnecessary plastic waste. Switch to larger, wall-mounted dispensers that can be refilled with products from local producers (you can also stock these in your gift shop to encourage local economic development). Do away with plastic straws and water bottles and provide guests with branded reusable bottles they can keep and refill at water stations across the property.
    • Bulk buy (and save). Buying larger quantities of items reduces the amount of packaging used in a single shipment. And fewer shipments mean fewer carbon emissions associated with transport, not to mention that bulk buying is often cheaper than buying individual items.
    • Refill, don’t replace. Refilleries offer a plastic-free shopping experience, and they’re becoming increasingly popular. These specialist stores encourage you to bring your own containers to refill everything from cleaning and personal care products to flour, oil and honey. The beauty of refilleries – aside from reduced plastic waste – is that you can buy what you need, which works out cheaper and means you throw less away.
    • Make friends with farmers. If you are not buying large quantities, buy loose vegetables, fruit, eggs and other produce from local markets, greengrocers or farm shops instead of the plastic-wrapped (and more expensive) alternatives from supermarkets.
    • Engage your suppliers. Tell your suppliers you’re on a mission to reduce plastic waste in your supply chain and ask them to provide goods in reusable containers or switch to biodegradable or compostable packaging. If they’re not prepared to make the shift with you, consider finding a new supplier.
    • Look for substitutes. If you can’t eliminate plastic, look for substitutes: cardboard takeaway containers instead of polystyrene; bamboo toothbrushes and cutlery instead of plastic; fabric laundry bags instead of single-use ones.

A holistic and effective waste management system in tourism and hospitality must include packaging by recycling, reusing and repurposing what you can and phasing out what you can’t.

Keep in mind, packaging and food waste are big contributing culprits in the tourism and hospitality industry, but waste is not “just” an environmental issue. It also has far-reaching social, financial and moral impacts. Read Tourism and the war on waste for more ways to address the environmental, social and financial impacts of waste in your operations.


Waste management does not have to be overwhelming and over-engineered. Weeva can help you get to zero waste with easy-to-use tools like our single-use plastic checklist.

Did you know, our Zero Waste and Sustainable and Ethical Procurement parameters will help you to reduce waste across your operations, educate your staff and implement practical, effective measures to make a positive impact?

Download our Single-use Plastic Checklist

Remember every bit counts!

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