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Like those tiny plastic hotel shampoo bottles? California moves toward banning them

Like those tiny plastic hotel shampoo bottles? California moves toward banning them
The tiny shampoo bottles have been replaced at more than a dozen hotel brands operated by Marriott International and InterContinental Hotels. Many Holiday Inn Express hotels now have larger pump bottles fastened to the shower walls. (InterContinental Hotels)

Those small shampoo and conditioner bottles, popular with travelers but unpopular with anti-plastics advocates, would be banned in California hotels under a bill that cleared the state Assembly on Wednesday.

The complimentary shower products are the latest convenience item to catch the attention of lawmakers, who have previously targeted single-use plastic items such as grocery bags and straws in an effort to reduce plastic pollution.

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Assembly Bill 1162 drew snarky responses and nanny-state criticism from Republicans after it was introduced, but no lawmakers spoke in opposition Wednesday. The bill passed 42 to 23.

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), said the small plastic bottles in hotels may be convenient, but they are also damaging the environment.

“Those tiny plastic shampoo bottles that are common in hotel rooms represent a sizable amount of waste that can be easily eliminated in more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives,” Kalra said.

AB 1162 would take effect in 2023 for hotels with more than 50 rooms and a year later for all other hotels and rental homes. Hotels could still provide the small bottles of shampoo and other personal care products to guests upon request.

The trade group representing manufacturers and distributors of the small shampoos, conditioners and soaps, the Personal Care Products Council, opposed the bill, saying it would hurt businesses that sell to hotels.

“I’m not a big fan of bans, and I like these” products, said Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) in a hearing in April. “I collect them up in the hotel rooms.”

The California Hotel and Lodging Assn. supported the bill, saying some of the world’s largest hotel companies, including Marriott and InterContinental Hotels, have been phasing out the small complimentary bottles and replacing them with large in-shower dispensers.

Marriott officials said they expected to save an average of 250 pounds of plastic a year — or 23,000 plastic bottles — for each 140-room hotel that stopped stocking rooms with the mini shampoos and conditioners.

“By some estimates, there are as many as half a billion of those little bottles put in rooms in California in a single year,” said Kalra, adding that the bottles are difficult to recycle because of their size and the residue left inside them.

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