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Tourism Takes Action on Plastic Waste and Pollution

Photo source: UNWTO

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced that its Global Tourism Plastics Initiative (GTPI) has welcomed 32 new signatories that have the common vision to reduce waste and pollution across the tourism sector.

“Tourism businesses and destinations are stepping up their commitment to sustainability,” said the UNWTO, which leads the initiative with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Uniting the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution, the GTPI enables businesses, governments and other tourism stakeholders to lead by example in the shift towards a circular economy of plastics.

Among the 32 new signatories are organizations such as TUI Group, AC Hotels by Marriott, Palladium Hotel Group, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, Hostelling International, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and Visit Valencia. The new additions bring the total number of signatories up to 93 companies and organizations. These include organizations from stages of the tourism value chain, such as accommodation providers, tour operators, online platforms, suppliers, waste managers and supporting organizations.

Photo source: UNWTO

To mark the confirmation of the new signatories, UNWTO and UNEP, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, recently held a special panel discussion with the theme “Eliminate. Innovate. Circulate. Strategies from the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative”.

During the panel, it was highlighted that:

– It is essential to make decisions based on evidence as much as possible, and not be afraid to integrate reuse models since the customers are becoming more interested.
– It is critical to be flexible when selecting implementation strategies to take into account the context in which we operate and local waste management capabilities.
– It is key to recognize the role of suppliers and the sustainable procurement process to identify innovations that are feasible to implement and do not result in unintended environmental impacts.
– It is important to enhance partnerships and share knowledge across stakeholders in the value chain so that all organizations in the sector can make progress.

“Addressing plastic pollution is essential to sustainably restart tourism, preserve destinations and contribute to climate action. We are proud to see the number of signatories growing continuously since the launch of the initiative,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative was launched in January 2020.

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