The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution. It enables businesses and governments to take concerted action, leading by example in the shift towards a circular economy for plastics.
The Travel Foundation has today announced its commitment to tackle plastic pollution as part of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, led by the UN Environment Program and the World Tourism Organization, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
As a member of the Advisory Committee for the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, the Travel Foundation has helped co-create the initiative, including its menu of commitments for tourism organizations. These cover:
- eliminating problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and items by 2025;
- taking action to move from single-use to reuse models or reusable alternatives by 2025;
- engaging the value chain to move towards 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable;
- taking action to increase the amount of recycled content across all plastic packaging and items used;
- committing to collaborate and invest to increase the recycling and composting rates for plastics;
- reporting publicly and annually on progress made towards these targets.
Jeremy Sampson, Chief Executive of the Travel Foundation, said: “Through the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, we are creating a supportive network for businesses and governments to close the loop around plastic. The Travel Foundation has a long track record of successfully working with hotels and other businesses to reduce their plastic and other waste. This is currently our focus in Cyprus, Mauritius and Saint Lucia, where we are working at both policy and operational level. This coming May, with our partners in Slovenia, we will convene an event to bring together public and private stakeholders and international experts, to drive forward their ambition to eliminate or reuse plastic items in tourism.”
Developed by the Sustainable Tourism Program of the One Planet network, a multi-stakeholder partnership to implement the sustainable development goal on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG 12), the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative acts as the tourism sector interface of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which unites more than 450 businesses, governments, and other organizations behind a common vision and targets to address plastic waste and pollution at its source. As such, the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative will implement the New Plastics Economy vision, framework and definitions to mobilize the global tourism industry towards concerted significant action against plastic pollution.
Ligia Noronha, UN Environment Program Economy Division Director, said: “Plastic pollution is one of the major environmental challenges of our time, and tourism has an important role to play in contributing to the solution. Through the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, tourism companies and destinations are supported to innovate, eliminate and circulate the way they use plastics, to help achieve circularity in the use of plastics and reduce plastics pollution globally.”
Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, said the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is a great opportunity for tourism companies and destinations to step forward and lead the global effort addressing plastic pollution: “Frontrunning tourism companies and destinations will set quantifiable targets as part of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative and accelerate the transformation of the tourism sector towards more integrated solutions and circular business models”.
The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative aims to stop plastic ending up as pollution while also reducing the amount of new plastic that needs to be produced. To realize this vision, tourism companies and destinations commit to eliminate the plastic items they don’t need; innovate so all plastics they do need are designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted; and circulate everything they use to keep it in the economy and out of the environment.
Gerald Naber, New Plastics Economy Global Commitment Program Manager, said: “The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment unites more than 450 businesses, governments and others behind a clear vision of a circular economy for plastics. We welcome the launch of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, led by UNEP and UNWTO, which unites the tourism sector behind this vision for a world in which plastic never becomes waste or pollution. It will be a challenging journey, but through concerted action, we can eliminate the plastics we don’t need and innovate, so the plastics we do need can be safely and easily circulated – keeping them in the economy and out of the environment.”
By transitioning to circularity in the use of plastics, the tourism sector can make positive contributions like reducing landfill, pollution, natural resource depletion and greenhouse gas emissions; raising awareness of conservation among staff and guests to avoid single-use plastic products; influencing their suppliers to produce more sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic products; working with governments to improve local waste infrastructure and community facilities; and creating sustainable livelihoods and long-term community prosperity in harmony with nature.
By taking serious action in a coordinated and determined manner on plastic pollution, the tourism sector can help preserve and protect the places and wildlife that make destinations worth visiting.