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Global tourism initiative to combat plastic pollution

Global tourism initiative to combat plastic pollution
January 23, 2020

World tourism bodies have combined in an initiative to tackle the root causes of plastic pollution, enabling businesses and governments to take joint action.

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.

The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment unites businesses, governments, and other organisations behind a common vision and targets, aiming to address plastic waste and pollution at its source. Signatories include companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally, as well as governments, NGOs, universities, industry associations, investors, and other organisations. The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the UN Environment Program.

Publicity surrounding the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative described it as 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% 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;
• Report publicly and annually on progress made towards these targets.
• 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

Introducing the initiative, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili commented “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.”

The Initiative is a key activity of the Sustainable Tourism Program 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 Program Manager Gerald Naber advised “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, 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.”

The One Planet Sustainable Tourism Program has the overall objective to enhance the sustainable development impacts of the tourism sector by 2030, by developing, promoting and scaling up sustainable consumption and production practices that boost the efficient use of natural resources while producing less waste and addressing the challenges of climate change and biodiversity.

The Sustainable Tourism Programme is part of the One Planet network, a multi-stakeholder partnership to implement SDG 12 on Sustainable Consumption and Production.

The UN Environment Program is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was launched in 2010 with the aim of accelerating the transition to the circular economy. Since its creation, the charity has emerged as a global thought leader, putting the circular economy on the agenda of decision-makers around the world. The charity’s work focuses on seven key areas: insight and analysis; business; institutions, governments, and cities; systemic initiatives; circular design; learning; and communications.

For more information go to www.newplasticseconomy.org/projects/global-commitment

Related Articles

30th December 2019 - National plastics summit set to address Australia’s growing waste problem

14th December 2019 - Fremantle swim event goes plastic free

9th December 2019 - MCG looks to boost sustainability with ban on plastic plates and cutlery

9th December 2019 - New Zealand Government commits to next steps on plastic waste management

13th November 2019 - PATA to present webinar on reducing plastic pollution

7th November 2019 - Australian Marine Conservation Society welcomes Queensland government proposal to ban single-use plastics

22nd August 2019 - Australian Turf Club to end single-use beverage plastics for Everest Carnival

17th August 2019 - Ekka showbag sellers face pressure to reduce single-use plastic

1st August 2019 - Zoggs expands environmental commitments with swimwear made from plastic waste and reduction in plastic goggle packaging

18th July 2019 - Zoos and aquariums celebrate and educate through Plastic Free July

17th July 2019 - Cairns initiative sees discarded plastic straws recycled into park seating

30th June 2019 - Wellington lifeguard encourages poolgoers to refill during Plastic Free July

26th November 2018 - UNWTO report shows Thailand leads Asia in incoming international visitor spending

29th January 2018 - Far North Queensland tourism operators back Great Barrier Reef plastic straws ban

21st November 2018 - New UNWTO Report helps cities manage impacts of ‘overtourism’

3rd February 2017 - UNESCO and UNWTO combine to launch 2017 as International Year of Sustainable Tourism

27th June 2016 - Climate change a massive threat to global heritage and tourism

29th May 2016 - Australian references removed from UN climate change report over ‘tourism concerns’

12th December 2014 - Anger over Australia’s withdrawl from UNWTO


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