Tuesday, December 6, 2022

UNWTO initiative ‘makes impact in tackling plastics pollution’

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative has welcomed a further 21 signatories, bringing the total of organisations that have committed to implement circular economy of plastics in the tourism sector to 113. 

The new signatories have been announced alongside the launch of a first annual report, which makes clear the significant progress made in tackling plastics pollution in tourism over the past year.

Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Accor, Club Med, Hong-Kong and Shanghai Hotels, Iberostar, Melco, Six Senses have all reported continuous efforts to implement their commitments to tackle plastic pollution. 

Together, they have eliminated over 108 million plastic items and packaging in 2020, totaling around 804 metric tons, according to a UNWTO statement.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “In just one year, the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative has made a real impact. Together, signatories have cut their use of plastic by 800 metric tons, equivalent to 27 large shipping containers full of plastic. 

“I congratulate all those businesses and destinations for their commitment and welcome the 21 newest signatories to the Initiative – a clear sign that tourism is working hard to become more sustainable, even in times of crisis.”

deSter, a member of Gate Group and the leading supplier to the aviation, hospitality and foodservice industries has also reported progress, for instance by discontinuing the launch of new products with non-recyclable materials; working on fibre-based technologies and closed loop recycling pilots with customers; and developing new designs.

Club Med Sustainability Manager Florian Duprat said: “We are delighted to have joined the Global Tourism Plastic Initiative through our Bye Bye Plastics programme: Club Med has already removed on a global scale disposable plastic items such as cups, straws, cutlery, plates as well as individual plastic packaging from shower gel, shampoo and lotion and from other in-room accessories. 

“We are now aiming to remove single use plastic accessories from our rooms and festive events as well as reducing by up to 50% the use of plastic water bottles in 2024 (compared to 2019).”

deSter Director Sustainability Philippe De Naeyer said: “We are pleased to have been able to formalise our goals and progress in the global commitment of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative report. It gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to developing more sustainable solutions. 

“And, more importantly, by being part of a co-ordinated action plan with other signatories, we can be sure that we are moving the needle to stop plastic pollution.”

Among the 21 new signatories are, four accommodation companies, seven tour operators, nine supporting organisations and one destination. These signatories have set concrete targets around the elimination of unnecessary and problematic plastics, the introduction of reuse models and work on value chain level to improve recyclability.

The Initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution. It is led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Tourism Organisation in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 

It was endorsed by the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organisation at its 114th meeting held on December 1 during the UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid, encouraging Member States to take part in the fight against plastic pollution.

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