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Saving the planet, one bottle at a time
More than 30 hotels in the Protea Hospitality Group (PHG) have since the beginning of the year moved from bottled water in their conference venues and bedrooms to environmentally-friendly in-house water purification/bottling systems that are saving thousands of bottles from ending up in landfills daily while reducing the carbon footprint of the properties concerned.
And according to PHG Operations Director William Ford, over the next few months another 30 hotels will replace plastic water bottles with reusable glass bottles and water purification/bottling systems, further reducing the company’s landfill contribution.
The new bottling systems come from Vivreau, the company that provides the White House and Michelin-starred restaurants throughout Europe and the US with drinking water. Vivreau systems provide for filtered water to be bottled on site in sterilised reusable glass bottles rather than the single-use plastic water bottles that are used in most hotels and conferencing facilities around South Africa.
Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch and Cape Town, African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel (Johannesburg) and African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa are among the hotels that are already using Vivreau water in their conference and reception areas.
Charles Tapanlis, MD of Vivreau Advanced Water Systems Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, said that with using an in-house water purification/bottling system as well as reusing glass bottles, if just 100 were used a day they would replace more than 73 000 plastic bottles over a two-year period.
Citing National Geographic sources, he added that last year in America alone more than 30 billion bottles of water were consumed. Manufacturers used 17 million barrels of crude oil to make these bottles, which is enough to run 1 million cars for a year. More than 80% of these water bottles weren’t recycled, instead making their way to landfills and polluting the ocean.
“Vivreau’s mission is to provide the highest quality alternative to bottled water while eliminating landfill waste and reducing ‘water miles’. Vivreau water has a dramatically lower carbon footprint than conventional bottled water and doesn’t contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a substance found in plastic (bottles) that has been linked to health problems.”
Ford said: “The Protea Hospitality Group doesn’t see sustainability as a range of new activities because we’ve been sensitive to the environment for many years and we are always looking for new ways to reduce our carbon footprint. We recognise that this is a holistic process that calls for a shift in the way we approach the range of issues that face our business on a daily basis and that is what the move to Vivreau water is all about. Replacing the conferencing bottles represents a small fraction of our historical carbon footprint with traditional plastic bottles, though, and corrective action is underway to address this”
Ford added that the transition in the 30-odd hotels from plastic bottled water to filtered water in glass bottles had been an unmitigated success with no complaints from GUESTS or hotels, except that the glass bottle design was so attractive that GUESTS often wanted to take them as souvenirs. “We love that our GUESTS like the new bottles, but constantly replacing them rather defeats the object of recycling containers, which is what we were primarily trying to do with the change to Vivreau, however, replacing these glass bottles represents a small fraction of our historical carbon footprint with traditional plastic bottles, and corrective action is underway to inform GUESTS that the bottles are hotel property”,” Ford said.