Home News & Features Global Tourism Plastics Initiative Takes on One of the Worst Polluters

Global Tourism Plastics Initiative Takes on One of the Worst Polluters

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MADRID, SPAIN—The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative was officially announced yesterday by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to tackle the root causes of plastic pollution, enabling businesses and governments to take joint action.

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is ground-breaking and ambitious in its goals. It aims to reduce the amount of plastic pollution caused by the tourism sector. To achieve this vision, tourism companies and destinations will be required to make a set of concrete and actionable commitments by 2025, including to:

  • Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and items by 2025;
  • Take action to move from single-use to reuse models or reusable alternatives by 2025;
  • Engage the value chain to move towards 100 percent of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable;
  • Take action to increase the amount of recycled content across all plastic packaging and items used;
  • Commit to collaborate and invest to increase the recycling and composting rates for plastics; and
  • Report publicly and annually on progress made towards these targets.

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.”

Key Activity of Sustainable Tourism Programme

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.

The New Plastics Economy Programme Manager Gerald Naber 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.”

The Director of UN Environment’s Economy Division Director, Ms. Ligia Noronha, added: “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 so they can innovate, eliminate and circulate the way they use plastics.”

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