A new worldwide drive to reduce plastic pollution in the travel industry – the Global Tourism Plastic Initiative – has been launched.
The aim of the UN-backed project is to stop plastic used within the travel industry ending up as pollution, while also reducing the amount of new plastic that needs to be produced.
Travel companies are being encouraged to eliminate plastic items “they don’t need”, while necessary plastics should be “designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted” so they don’t become pollution.
Commitments made by the initiative include eliminating “problematic or unnecessary” plastic packaging and items, and taking action to move from single-use plastic to reusable alternatives by 2025.
Travel Foundation is one of the co-creators of the initiative, which is being led by the UN Environment Programme and the World Tourism Organisation. The initiative was launched at the Fitur trade show in Spain on Wednesday (22 January).
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.”
The initiative will also encourage the travel industry to move towards all plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable, as well as “committing to collaborate and invest” to increase recycling and composting rates for plastics.
It has also promised to publicly reporting on the progress made towards its targets every year.
Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the World Tourism Organisation, added the initiative was a “great opportunity for tourism companies and destinations to step forward and lead the global effort addressing plastic pollution”.
“Front-running 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,” added Pololikashvili.
As part of this project, Travel Foundation will be working with partners in Slovenia to host an event in May bringing together public and private stakeholders with international experts to “drive forward their ambition” to eliminate or reuse plastic items in tourism.