Should we revert to single-use plastics to prevent Coronavirus?

July 16, 2020

We should probably start this post by saying that hygiene is of utmost importance at all times.  Whilst Coronavirus might be making the headlines right now,  it’s important to have a consistent approach to hygiene all year round.

Good hygiene also prevents the spread of other harmful bacteria and viruses and it can be achieved by ensuring that you have the right standard operating procedures in place relevant to the type of hotel or hospitality business you are managing.

Whilst it can be tempting to switch over to single-use plastic for hygiene reasons, it can sometimes create a false sense of security and it is often better to implement strict cleaning and sanitising protocols at all times which will help to reduce waste as well as keeping illness at bay.

Very often we see food preparation staff wearing single-use gloves and very often we see them pick up a range of items that would be considered to cross-contaminate because the mindset is that ‘the hands are clean’.  The gloves in many cases are not.  A strictly enforced hand-washing procedure (which requires having sufficient equipment in the right place to make it easy for staff to follow the procedure) creates better hygiene habits than the use of single-use gloves, and obviously reduces waste.  Whilst we know gloves are mandatory in some places, but where they are not it is worth reinforcing hand-washing training regularly.

Related Content
What about reusable straws?

There is a tendency amongst some hoteliers and hospitality businesses to see a reusable straw as unhygienic, however your guests and customers will eat from stainless steel knives, forks and spoons that go through the same dish-washing cycle.  Straws do require some additional steps to be followed to ensure that any material is removed from the inside of the straw, similar to ensuring the space between fork prongs are clean.

Read our blog on keeping reusable straws hygienic.

Can you really avoid the spread of infection without generating plastic waste?

The straight answer is YES you can.  In fact, you can even reduce the amount of toxic chemicals you are using at the same time which is better for your staff, your guests and the environment.

One company has harnessed the power of nature to create something called Stabilised Aqueous Ozone (SAO) which is more powerful than bleach but with zero negative impact on human health or the environment.

It requires no COSHH training, no measured dosing and can be produced on demand from a wall unit which fills reusable spray bottles that can be used by housekeeping staff, therefore eliminating the traditional plastic waste associated with most cleaning chemical products.

Known to kill harmful viruses in seconds yet completely free from toxic chemicals, you can safely spray it in the air, eliminating harmful airborne pathogens and viruses with zero impact on your breathing, skin and eyes.

Fit for use on all non-porous surfaces including:

  • Kitchen work surfaces
  • Bathroom surfaces
  • Handrails and balcony rails
  • Lift buttons – a key area of bacterial growth as everyone pushes ground floor!
  • Sunbeds, mattresses and other poolside decor or furniture
  • Door handles and windows
  • Staff can use it instead of alcohol sanitiser that is very drying for the skin
iClean Mini

There’s even a handy mini version that can be used front of house on reception, in your bar/restaurant, in the gym to sanitise equipment after use.

In all cases, it is wise to get key staff together to identify the areas where infection would be most likely to linger and to make suitable changes to current standard operating procedures if required and of course to follow the recommendations provided by the Health Organisations in your particular destination or area.

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Jo Hendrickx
Jo Hendrickx
Jo is a sustainability professional living in Gran Canaria with over 20 years of experience in the global tourism industry. She has worked extensively with hotels and accommodation providers around the world since 2001 helping managers to navigate the health, safety, quality and sustainability expectations of tour operators. Increasingly concerned with the impacts of unnecessary plastics, Jo was motivated to create Travel Without Plastic to support those hotels that want to make a difference.
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