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California May Soon Ban Mini Toiletries at Hotels

California May Soon Ban Mini Toiletries at Hotels
Scott Dylan

The time-honored tradition of stashing small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion in your carry-on when staying at hotels could soon just be one of those legends we tell our grandchildren about. That’s because it might soon be time to say goodbye to single-use toiletries at some hotels around the country. California is currently considering a statewide ban on those mini toiletries so many of us love. A bill was passed last week that specifically goes after the mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and moisturizer that are supplied by hotels. It’s being done as part of a move to reduce the overall use of plastics in the state and cut down on plastic waste.

All lodging establishments within California would be affected by the new bill that bans the use of single-use toiletries. That includes hotels, motels and resorts. Even holiday apartments would be banned from supplying single-use toiletries.

What alternative will lodging establishments have to use?

They will be permitted to offer bulk dispensers instead of containers that are intended for single-use applications.

Governor Gavin Newsom now has the task of deciding whether or not he wants to sign a bill that bans single-use toiletries into law. He could also allow the bill to pass without placing his signature on it or decide to veto the idea.

What kind of penalty can lodging establishments expect to face if the bill does become law?

Fines of up to $2,000 will be used to punish establishments that break the rule more than once. This isn’t the first time that the idea of banning single-use toiletries at hotels has been explored in California. However, it is the first time that imposing a statewide ban has been explored. Santa Cruz’s local government recently voted in a ban that prohibits lodging establishments from offering single-use toiletries to guests. That rule will become effective on Dec. 31 of 2020.

Hotels aren’t necessarily waiting for the government to tell them that it’s time to reduce waste and cut down on the use of plastics. Marriott has been leading the way when it comes to trying to reduce waste. The hotel chain already announced that it will be swapping single-use bottles for bulk dispensers at hundreds of its properties around the world. Marriott already recycles unused soap and is in the process of eliminating plastic straws at all of its properties around the globe.

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (17)


  1. sfoeuroflyer

    April 25, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Falls into the category immortalized in an old country music song “Let’s do something cheap and stupid”.

  2. OUTraveling

    April 25, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    The issue with bulk dispensers is that it opens the possibility for the dispensers to be tampered with.

    Now some will say that these dispensers will be locked. Regarding that I ask such persons to go on Youtube and watch Defon videos on the limitations of physical security, especially videos by Deviant Ollam. Those dispensers might lock but as they are used by a large chain with hundreds of rooms at a single property if not 100’s of thousands across the chain the issue will be that they will use a cheap general key available for purchase on Amazon or be able to be picked by a 10 year old with a paper clip.

    Secured locks exist but I doubt the shampoo container will be fitted with a Assa Abloy or Medeco padlock.

    I would prefer knowing someone did not put their personal fluids in a container or that the soap I use has become a petri dish for bacteria (barring special soaps; bacteria view soap as a great growth median>

  3. Dhamal

    April 25, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    they should give these small sizes to the rampant homeless in California.. they need these more than paying customers at the hotels.

  4. rylan

    April 25, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Ahhh yes, more typical bs coming from California.

    And those bulk dispensers are totally insecure. I was in a hotel a few months ago and was able to get the larger bottle out without even ‘unlocking’ it.
    Guaranteed that something nasty is going to happen.

  5. htb

    April 25, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    @OUTraveling: ” or be able to be picked by a 10 year old with a paper clip.”

    I’d put my money on a six year old…

    However, it doesn’t need to be a container. You can have a 500 ml (1 pint) plastic bag that goes into a dispenser. Much more difficult to tamper with.

    I prefer dispensers over cheap no-name toiletries, but I love to take home the remainders of high end ones in small bottles. But since I won’t stay at high-end hotels in the US sure to the tipping culture, this won’t affect me…

  6. ZJ3000

    April 25, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    @ Dhamal, they do, most of not all hotel chains donate toiletries to shelters.
    @ OUTraveling, completely agree, sadly I have the feeling that hotel chains might be behind this laws, some IHG Kimpton hotels already used a wall mounted dispenser, terrible idea!
    @sfoeuroflyer, I can see motel 6 et al doing it, but guests at Fairmont, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, or Chateau Marmont?

  7. lavender1365

    April 25, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    Single use toiletries (like samples one gets from Sephora) might be a better solution than refillable germy containers.

  8. c502cid

    April 25, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    I’ve been giving them to our local homeless shelter for years. Now will California brand me as anti-homeless?

  9. Sydneyberlin

    April 25, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    Oh for science sake! Yet another nice thing that gets crapped down by the environment police. Those awful dispenser things might be fine for some cheap roadside motels but not in glamorous 4 or 5 star properties. They’re cheap and nasty- no wonder that Marriott jumps onto the bandwagon straight away. Not to save the planet, mind you, but to save a few bucks. Annoying!

  10. sfoeuroflyer

    April 26, 2019 at 8:17 am

    OU Traveling raises a good point. Another good point: what if the previous guest using the bulk container was sick?

  11. +/-3dB

    April 28, 2019 at 7:21 am

    Another reason to avoid California. The Nanny State sticking its long snoopy nose into our lives. Politicians must be seen at doing SOMEthing, and of course most hotel customers don’t vote in the constituencies they spend their money in. I’ll bring my own Suave shower gel and ask reception for a discount if forced to deal with this.

  12. presario1626

    April 28, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    I would rather collect the toiletries from hotels in other states, and bring them or my own when travelling to CA. Why all the “smart” ideas always come from CA?

  13. red75231

    April 29, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Are these comments serious? Single-use plastics are a worldwide environmental menace, and people here are worried about someone sabotaging the containers?? Or sick previous occupants? Sick people are everywhere, and if the previous occupant had some communicable disease, catching it from the plastic bathroom dispensers is the last place I’d worry about. This germphobia is getting out of control.
    The Four Seasons in Kingston ON Canada has had these for many years, wall-mounted, very nice, convenient and lots of product in them. I never caught anything from them. I say bravo California, go for it.

  14. RandyN

    April 30, 2019 at 6:54 am

    How does the health of the previous guest affect the dispenser more than it affects any other part of the room? It doesn’t.

    We wondered why our tourism is off and the economy is shaky and now we know it’s because you’re not visiting. Our loss.

  15. wijnands

    May 2, 2019 at 6:49 am

    So basically the same system you find in many European hotels is now an issue to Americans?

  16. moeve

    May 7, 2019 at 12:29 am

    European Hotels have been using these for year without much trouble and the producers have gotten very inventive of the years too like using oneway membranes. You can always bring your own in small reusable container of your own too. Have been doing that for years myself.

  17. horseymike

    May 17, 2019 at 4:05 am

    san francisco has already banned toilet paper

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