Grand Hilton Seoul
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Ban of Single Use Plastic Toiletries at Hotels Now In Effect in South Korea

Liquids are not the only products affected by this ban.

The photograph of miniature plastic toiletry containers which is featured at the top of this article was taken at what was once the Grand Hilton Seoul hotel property ten years ago — and a ban of single use plastic toiletries at hotels is now in effect in South Korea as of Friday, March 29, 2024.

Ban of Single Use Plastic Toiletries at Hotels Now In Effect in South Korea

Aloft Seoul Gangnam
The Aloft Seoul Gangnam hotel property was already using bulk dispensers back in 2014. Please click on the photograph to read my review of the Aloft Seoul Gangnam hotel property. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

In addition to small tubes of toothpaste and miniature bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, skin lotion, and other liquids that are designed for single use only, hotel and resort properties are no longer permitted to provide other items that are constructed of plastic to guests — such as toothbrushes and razors.

However, hotel and resort properties are allowed to sell the aforementioned items; but they are not allowed to simply give them away to their guests.

A monetary penalty of up to three million won — which is almost $2,225.00 in United States dollars — will be imposed on hotel and resort properties in the country of South Korea which have a minimum of 50 rooms for violation of this law.

Many hotel and resort properties have already switched to using plastic bulk container dispensers for liquid toiletries — but some are concerned about the theft of these items to the point of either anchoring them to walls or other surfaces to installing vending machines to sell these items. Some guests have also expressed concerns about the hygiene of multiple people using the same bulk container dispensers.

Final Boarding Call

Seoul hanok
Hanoks in Bukchon Hanok Village. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I am a believer in a number of issues: reducing the amount of intervention by governments whenever possible without reducing the efficacy of protecting consumers; ensuring that we conserve the consumption of products so that there is enough to go around for everyone; and protecting the environment as much as reasonably possible. Frustratingly, those two beliefs often seem to clash.

As I reported in this article on Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, 2018, thousands of bars of used soap — as well as small plastic bottles of toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, mouthwash and skin cream — can be discarded from one single hotel property daily; and wall dispensers could help to significantly reduce that waste. I also like the idea of helping people to whom cleanliness is considered a luxury, which is where the aforementioned Clean the World Foundation comes in.

Regardless of whether a hotel property uses wall dispensers or small bottles and tubes of amenities is not going to significantly affect my trip either way. All I care about when I am a guest in a hotel room is that I am clean, comfortable, relaxed and refreshed while I am traveling…

…but I personally would rather have the choice of whether or not I want the small containers of toiletries — as long as those containers are constructed of recyclable materials so that I may dispose of them properly when I am finished with them — but I am likely in the minority regarding that opinion.

The snowball effect is definitely occurring, as more states in the United States and more countries around the world are adopting ordinances and enacting laws that are similar to the one imposed by South Korea — but are the initiatives actually reducing the amount of plastic waste around the world?

Other articles pertaining to plastic waste and recycling include:

All photographs ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

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