… and eliminating 250,000 plastic bottles a year

Sustainable Tourism at Four Seasons Maldives Series, 3 of 7

I am ‘shouting out’ about resorts where I can see they are truly focussed on leaving the world better than they found it. 

There’s one thing for sure, it’s warm in the Maldives and you need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.  Today we are really aware of single use plastics, but typically, in the past, water in resorts and hotels has been delivered to guests in this manner.  It’s good to see that changing around the world, but in some travel destinations it’s a much bigger challenge.

Isolated islands in the Maldives have to work hard to be self sufficient, the logistics of bringing all you need from the capital Male, especially if you are in the North Baa Atoll, is a significant operation.  In the early days at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, back in 2006, they brought in the drinking water they needed … in approx 250,000 single use plastic bottles a year! 

Prefer to watch a video? Click HERE for my YouTube video instead.

Fresh Water Spring

Standing on Landaa Giraavaru, this relatively small, tropical island, surrounded by the sea it’s hard to imagine there is enough fresh water to support this luxury resort.

From the get go, they tapped into the fresh water that is about 30 metre under the islands surface, using a reverse osmosis system making it suitable for showering, cooking etc.  The challenge was to extend a version to produce fresh drinking water. So they built the Landaa Spring and they have refilling their glass water bottles every day, since 2010!

How Do They Do It?

There are three stages in the reverse osmosis process. After the first stage the water can be used for showering and toilet purposes. After the second stage it’s suitable for drinking water. However, at the Landaa Spring, within the bottling plant, they use a third system of micro-filtration to make sure it’s bang up to the regulatory standard.

Daily and monthly testing are the norm and ensuring the quality of the drinking water is uppermost in their minds.

I have to say, it’s a really lovely water to drink, very soft, no chemical tastes – just like its come straight out of a mountain stream high in the Swiss Alps!

5,000 Bottles a Day!

This is what it takes to service both the guests and the restaurants on the island, in 1 litre and 750 ml reusable glass bottles. A significant workload, with overheads that aren’t passed onto guests with additional charges for the water, love that!

There are some elements of the process that have to be manual – if you take a look at the YouTube video, it will give you the best idea but here are a few photos so you get the idea.

250,000 single use plastic bottles, a year since 2010 eliminated with the Landaa Spring

Inside the Landaa Spring, returned bottles are given an initial hand wash, followed by a hot wash and sterilising in two large machines – each machine only holds about 30 or so bottles. Once dry, they are filled pretty quickly with a four tapped machine dispensing the water, though the bottles have to be added manually and then removed and their tops secured. They use a colour coding around the neck of each bottle to ensure the water doesn’t go past its ‘use-by’ date. They do have breakages of course and have to replace glass bottles that are worn, but spoiler alert, check out the next blog and video for a neat idea that Faisal has for re-using broken glass.

Its been a big investment for FS Landaa, but runs really efficiently since 2010, and as the headline says, that equates to the elimination approx 250,000 single use plastic bottles, every year = 3,000,000 plastic bottles (to end 2022) that could have ended up in landfill, or worse, floating around our oceans.

Four Seasons have a corporate goal to achieve refilling or bottling stations, eliminating the use of plastic bottles, in every hotel and resort by the beginning of 2024. Challenging for sure, but they have best practices here to use as their model.

This is the third part to a series of 7 blogs and video’s

Check out my YouTube for the video

Sustainable Tourism at Four Seasons Maldives