Sentosa hotels, attractions, F&B outlets to do away with plastic bottled water by end-2023
All hotels, food and beverage operators and attractions on Sentosa island will stop giving out plastic bottled water by the end of 2023, saving at least two million plastic bottles a year.
This includes not providing bottled water in hotel rooms, at events, and for dine-in and takeaway, Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) told The Straits Times.
SDC added that while its recycling rate has doubled from 7.5 per cent in 2016 to 15 per cent in 2022, more can be done to reduce the one-time use of disposables.
“We have chosen to start with bottled water because of the availability of alternatives, since potable water is readily accessible in Singapore,” said its spokesman.
This comes after a March 16 report by think-tank United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health found that Singapore was the world’s largest consumer of bottled water and spent the most on it at US$1,348 (S$1,800) per capita in 2021.
Sentosa’s measures to cut plastic bottled water consumption are only the first step to its goal of reducing disposables.
By the year end, SDC said it will be requiring the different operators on its island to implement a range of other measures that will help to reduce the use of plastic bags, takeaway food containers and dine-in disposable tableware, as well as to cut packaging waste and do away with the use of amenity kits.
Such measures are part of a playbook jointly developed with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore and will be launched on Monday, to offer guidance to Sentosa businesses in understanding best practices, tracking their progress in reducing disposables and implementing sustainability technologies.
According to an islandwide study conducted in 2021, Sentosa said that it generated approximately 22,800 tonnes of waste annually, with an estimated 8 per cent to 11 per cent of the total comprising disposables.
In place of bottled water, operators can consider other solutions like piping water through filtered taps or providing water jugs, said SDC.
Some Sentosa hotels have already ditched plastic bottled water. For instance, Capella Singapore has eliminated single-use plastic bottles since 2019, saving 80,300 bottles. Instead, filtered water is placed in reusable glass bottles in the rooms daily.
Capella has also removed plastic packaging from in-room amenities such as dental kits and laundry bags since 2022.
The Outpost Hotel has taps dispensing filtered water in all its rooms since it opened its doors in April 2019.
In place of plastic bottles, SDC said operators can also supply water packaged in beverage cartons like Tetra Paks, if lower quantities of these are supplied compared with the number of plastic bottled water it originally provided.
Some retail outlets may still choose to sell bottled water, it added.
Asked about how SDC will ensure that operators will not simply move from bottled water to packaged water, its spokesman said: “We discourage the use of packaged water and will continue to have regular dialogues with partners to help them move towards reusables.”
WWF’s material science expert Yvonne Lin said there is a misconception that such beverage cartons are more eco-friendly than plastic bottles, often due to the misunderstanding that these are made of just paper.
But the packaging is multi-layered, made of paper, plastic and aluminium layers – making their recyclability debatable.
“Only the paper layer can be recovered and recycled back to paper. The other materials, if recovered, are either recycled into something of lower quality, or made into products that are no longer recyclable thereafter,” she added.
While some advances in recycling technology can improve the recyclability of these beverage cartons, very few facilities are equipped with this technology, said Dr Lin.
While she did not have figures on the hospitality industry’s contribution to plastic bottle waste, she said hotels and attractions “have great potential” in educating the public about the needlessness of bottled water in these places.
“This can contribute to reducing the scale of our plastic bottle consumption in other areas as well,” she added.