Hotel Soap Saga on the Horizon

California Enacts Ban on Use of Smaller Sized Plastic Packaging of Personal Care Products in Hotels

In October 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 1162, prohibiting any “lodging establishment” from providing personal care products such as shampoo or soap in plastic bottles of 6 ounces or less. AB 1162 broadly defines “lodging establishment” to include any short-term rental of an accommodation intended for sleep, except rooms in a residence where the owner resides, and facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes. The statute allows hotels to continue to provide personal care products in such individual-sized packaging at locations other than the customer’s room or public bathrooms, as long as the items are provided in response to a customer’s request.

The intent of AB 1162 is to limit plastic waste, and the Legislative Counsel Digest entry for the bill specifically addresses it as a follow-up to recent legislation prohibiting stores from providing single-use plastic bags and restaurants offering single use straws. The legislation provides for fines for violations and goes into effect in two phases: January 1, 2023 for establishments with more than 50 rooms, and January 1, 2024 for those with 50 rooms or less.

As it is likely other states will follow California’s lead in this area, cosmetic brands selling products to hotels in individual use packaging should start considering alternative packaging options, e.g., refillable dispensers. Fortunately, the three years lead time before the statute goes into effect allows time for r&d for such packaging. As it is not unusual for institutions subject to such prohibitions to wait until the months before the measure goes into effect to change established practices, brands that are prepared to meet the demand at that time will surely benefit.

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