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News Article

Global tourism plastics initiative 

Mediterranean marine litter increases by up to 40 per cent during peak tourist season

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced ‘The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative’. Working in collaboration with Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the initiative unites the tourism sector against plastic pollution. The UNWTO wants to tourism companies and policy makers to limit the amount of plastic used within the sector, particularly in countries which are vulnerable to plastic pollution.

The initiative calls on all tourism companies and destinations to complete a set of ‘actionable commitments’ by 2025. In five years, the UNWTO hopes to have eliminated unnecessary plastic packaging and items, such as miniature individual shampoo bottles etc., but, also to move away from single use plastics in the hospitality sector to reusable alternatives.

Any plastic used within the sector aims to be recyclable or compostable, and of increased recycled content. The UNWTO is encouraging tourism organisations, policy makers and those in hospitality management to report ‘publicly and annually’ on progress made towards meeting the set plastic reduction targets.

The Initiative is a key activity of the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the One Planet Network and it acts as the interface for the tourism sector of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 

Tackling tourism’s plastic pollution is going to be big ask, the One Planet Network says the tourism industry is a main contributor to the rising level of plastic pollution in the seas. It states that during ‘peak tourist season, marine litter in the Mediterranean region was found to increase by up to 40 per cent’.

The One Planet Network states: “To realise this vision, tourism companies 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.”

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is a unique 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.”

To read more about the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, follow the link:


Article details

  • Author(s)
  • Jesslyn Thay
  • Date
  • 24 January 2020
  • Source
  • Subject(s)
  • Hospitality Sector