Home Publisher's Point of View New WTTC, UNEP Report Addresses Single-Use Plastic Issue

New WTTC, UNEP Report Addresses Single-Use Plastic Issue

Glenn Hasek

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) have launched a major new report addressing the complex issue of single-use plastic products (SUPP) within Travel & Tourism. The report is entitled, “Rethinking Single-Use Plastic Products in Travel & Tourism.” (To read the report in full, click here.) It is intended to help stakeholders take collective steps towards coordinated actions and policies that drive a shift towards reduce and reuse models.

The report’s recommendations include redefining unnecessary single-use plastic products in the context of one’s own business; giving contractual preference to suppliers of reusable products; proactively planning procedures that avoid a return to single-use plastic products in the event of disease outbreaks; supporting research and innovation in product design and service models that decrease the use of plastic items, and revising policies and quality standards with waste reduction, and circularity in mind.

The demand for single-use plastics items has increased with safety being a high concern among tourists and take-away services being on the rise. According to the Thailand Environment Institute, plastic waste has increased from 1,500 tons to a staggering 6,300 tons per day, owing to soaring home deliveries of food.

With around 90 percent of ocean plastic derived from land-based sources and the annual damage of plastics to marine ecosystems amounting to $13 billion per year, proactively addressing the challenge of plastics within the Travel & Tourism sector is key.

Some Report Highlights

The 45-page report is packed with useful information—everything from defining the problem to making recommendations for tourism businesses. Here are just some highlights from the report:

Sixty-nine hotels were looked at in the report. According to reported data from the hotels’ own operations, 32 percent of SUPPs by weight was linked to water bottles, 31 percent to toiletries, 15 percent to bags and liners, 9 percent to food packaging, 3 percent to cups, 4 percent to cling film, 3 percent to other miscellaneous packaging, 1 percent to cutlery, stirrers and straws and 1 percent to small food products.

Single use plastic products leak into the environment via three main pathways: littering, sewage system and inappropriate solid waste management. Solid waste management pathway generally is the largest leak. However, SUPPs are more likely to be littered compared to other types of plastics. In high income countries with strongly regulated waste management systems, littering, along with disposal of plastic products such as wet wipes through sewage, are likely the main pathways of plastics getting in the environment.

The report notes that extreme caution must be taken when replacing SUPPs with single-use products of alternative materials, as these do not always generate the best environmental and social outcomes.

Economic Development Comes Into Play

Regions where waste management infrastructure is under-developed are far more likely to experience negative environmental impacts from the littering of SUPPs.

While limited and often anecdotal, research has shown a potential link between tourism arrivals and plastic pollution. Workers in the waste sector in Zanzibar, for instance, reported collecting larger amounts of waste during peak tourism times and observed that the largest contribution to waste was from plastics that are generated from tourism activities. A WWF (2019) report also highlighted that plastic waste produced in the Mediterranean increased by up to 30 percent in the summer months, correlating with tourism seasonality.

Communication, education, awareness raising and call to action campaigns by both the public and private sectors are central to creating change at the societal level. Gender and minority responsible messages that resonate with primary audiences are key to driving change and encouraging personal responsibility. For Travel & Tourism businesses, knowing the demographics and values of their target audiences will be of the utmost importance to ensure relevant messaging.

The report concludes: “Addressing SUPP pollution within Travel & Tourism requires a mindset shift of consumers and Travel & Tourism companies alike and significant collaborative action within the entire sector, as well as actors across the value chain.”

The above is just a small list of the report’s highlights. Be sure to read the entire report.

Green Lodging News Adds HSSI to Green Product & Service Directory

ODESSA, FLA.—Green Lodging News has added Hotel Sustainability Solutions, Inc. (HSSI) to its Green Product & Service Directory in the Window Film category. In collaboration with HSSI’s Integrated Sustainability Solutions Platforms, Window Film Depot (WFD) provides nationwide window film and graphics products and services to HSSI clients nationwide—a wide range of high-performance film applications which achieve energy efficiency, safety, and aesthetically pleasing solutions by applying state of the art interior/exterior 3M Window Films, plus DefenseLite/BulletShield—proprietary security film technology products.

WFD brings 29 years of extensive hospitality experience within its 25,000 completed projects, receiving highest customer satisfaction ratings. WFD brings an expansive complement to HSSI’s unique integration of products, technologies, and systems, achieving significant financial impact in operating cost reductions, added asset value, capex reductions and building operating efficiencies. The collaboration brings collective strengths, directed to achieving sustainable and resilient solutions for HSSI clients, in the achievement of environmental compliance supporting ESG platforms.

Visit www.hotelsustainabilityinc.com, call (412) 445-4237, or e-mail chuck@hotelsustainabilityinc.com.

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Green Lodging News is always looking to profile sustainability champions in our Personnel Profile section. If you would like to nominate someone for this section of Green Lodging News, contact me at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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Every two weeks Green Lodging News posts a new guest column on its website. (Click here for examples.) The guest column also appears in the weekly e-newsletter. Green Lodging News is currently in need of industry experts to contribute occasional guest columns. Experts may include consultants, architects, designers, suppliers and those who own or operate green lodging establishments. Columns may be articles that take a stance on a particular subject or be strictly educational in nature. Columnists benefit by having their photo included along with a one paragraph description of their company. Interested in writing a column? Contact Glenn Hasek, publisher and editor, at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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Green Suppliers Spotlight is published weekly on Thursdays to general managers, owners, management companies, directors of sustainability, directors of engineering, facilities managers and many others who are either in purchasing positions or who influence purchasing decisions. Suppliers of green products and services throughout North America and beyond are invited to participate in the e-blast. (Minimum two suppliers per e-blast.) Green Suppliers Spotlight was created to give vendors an opportunity to reach a high number of industry purchasers at a very low cost—as low as $200 per e-mail. (Click here for rate sheet.)

Those advertising in Green Suppliers Spotlight can include up to 100 words, one image, contact information and multiple links to their website in their ad. At the end of each month, a report will be sent to each supplier with information on delivered e-mails, opens and click-throughs.

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