The CEO of UK-based InterContinental Hotels Group says the company's recent move to eliminate personalized, single-use plastic containers for toiletries will be a game-changer in the industry.

The decision, announced last week, will impact about 5,600 hotels and 850,000 guest rooms, according to IHG, which operates 17 hotel brands, including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.

"By 2021, we can retrofit all of our hotel rooms around the world to move to bulk amenities, and stop putting 200 million small pieces of plastic into the environment," IHG CEO Keith Barr told Cheddar. "We're really excited about it, but it's just a first step."

The decision comes as the hotel industry faces growing pressure to lessen their environmental impact. Eliminating extra plastics could be a good place to look.

More than 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, according to the United Nations. The international organization also reports that global plastic production has increasingly trended toward single-use products.

Historically, just 9 percent of plastic has been recycled.

"We have to do more around supply chain, how we supply hotels, how we renovate hotels, to make sure our industry is more sustainable," said Barr. He said that IHG also works with bedding made from recycled materials and works with nonprofits to donate furniture the company no longer uses.

"Around the world, we're recognizing that tourism needs to be more sustainable," said Barr. "I'm excited that we're the first mover on this, but I would expect my peers and other companies to follow suit in good time."

Last year, IHG, Marriott International, and Hilton Hotels, among other brands, committed to eliminate their use of plastic straws.

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