The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have recently launched a new report that addresses the complex issue of single-use plastic products within the tourism industry.
As nations across the globe begin to reopen and the travel industry starts to recover from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the two organisations look for solutions to limit Single-Use Plastics In Tourism.
The report is the first phase in mapping single-use plastic products used in the industry, recognizing hotspots for environmental leakages and providing practical and tactical recommendations for businesses and officials.
With the aim of driving a shift towards ‘reduce and reuse’ models, the report is intended to help participants take collective steps towards coordinated actions and policies to minimise plastic waste.
The report’s suggestions include redefining unnecessary single-use plastic products in the framework of a company’s own business; giving contractual preference to suppliers of reusable products; and proactively looking into procedures that will avoid a return to single-use plastic products in the event of disease outbreaks.
Apart from this, it will support research and innovation in product design and service models which reduce the use of plastic items, as well as reviewing policies and quality standards with waste reduction and circularity in mind.
“WTTC is proud to release this important high-level report for the sector, focusing on sustainability and reducing waste from single-use plastic products in tourism,” said Virginia Messina, acting WTTC chief executive.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the sustainability agenda with businesses and policymakers now putting an even stronger focus on it. As a growing priority, businesses are expected to continue to reduce single-use plastic products waste for the future and drive circularity to protect not only our people, but importantly, our planet,” added Messina, commenting that it is becoming clear that customers are making more conscious choices, and increasingly supporting businesses with sustainability front of mind.
The coronavirus pandemic has had both negative and positive impacts on single-use plastics waste. With safety being a high concern, the demand for single-use plastics items has increased.
However, the pandemic has also seen a growing demand for green tourism experiences around the world, with a 2019 global study finding 82 percent of respondents are conscious of plastic waste and are already taking practical actions to reduce pollution.
The report aims to support informed decision-making based on the potential impacts of trade-offs and of unintended burden shifting when considering the transition to sustainable alternatives.