OVER 180 COMPANIES IN INTERNATIONAL TOURISM SECTOR PROMISE TO REDUCE PLASTIC WASTE
AT A GLANCE
Over 180 international tourism companies promise to reduce plastic waste at holiday destinations worldwide. The International Tourism Plastic Pledge was signed on 26 September 2019.
Every year, more than eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. The tourism sector is one of the contributors. Think of bottles, straws and bags used by tourists. Research has shown that hotel room visitors generate much more plastic waste than normal households in the region. Plastic pollution negatively affects the visual attractiveness of tourism destinations, contributes to soil and water pollution, affects animal, plant and human health and leads to a loss of biodiversity.
The tourism industry realises something needs to change. In September 2019, 150 companies (and counting!) in the sector signed the International Tourism Plastic Pledge, an initiative of MVO Nederland. In doing so, they are expressing their joint commitment to reduce plastic pollution at holiday destinations worldwide.
Representing around 50 million holidaymakers
The signatories include TUI Group, Radisson Hotel Group, Hostelling International and Green Key International. Together they represent around 180,000 employees and 50 million holidaymakers. By signing the Plastic Pledge, they recognise the urgency and the need to work together to reduce plastic pollution. They promise to work on a concrete roadmap for the international tourism sector, continue efforts to reduce the use of single-use plastics, and exchange knowledge, tools, and best practices. “In that way the pledge contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN,” says Saskia Pepping, Project Manager at MVO Nederland.
Speeding things up
Saskia: “Many companies in the sector have already taken action to reduce their use of plastic. There are so many inspiring examples out there. If they join forces and share their knowledge, we can speed things up. That's exactly what we are aiming for with the Plastic Pledge. The more companies we involve, the larger our impact will be on reducing plastic pollution at beautiful holiday destinations.”
Towards a concrete roadmap
In the coming months a working group of representatives will draw up a roadmap with concrete goals and a monitoring system to measure impact. They will do this in collaboration with the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. By working together with these international and renowned organisations, the scope and impact of the pledge will be enlarged. Saskia: “We will present the roadmap internationally in the first quarter of 2020. In the meantime, signatories will be invited to a meeting helping them to take the next steps in their organisation. We will also encourage participating companies and organisations to share their sustainability challenges and solutions on tourismplasticpledge.com, the matchmaking platform for entrepreneurs, employees and like-minded people to solve their sustainability challenges.”
“Using less plastic is step one. Step two is finding out what you can do with the plastic that remains. Our ambition is to use the plastics we collect, for example from the beaches of Bali, as raw material for new products like beach chairs. That would complete the circle.”
Project Manager MVO Nederland
HOW IT ALL STARTED
In 2017 MVO Nederland started a project to fight plastic pollution in Bali. Six Dutch tour operators and their local Destination Management Companies worked with MVO Nederland to create awareness. Both tourists and hotels were encouraged to reduce their plastic use. Saskia Pepping: “Of course, Bali is not the only destination facing plastic pollution. Many destinations worldwide are confronted with it. Soon after starting the project, the participants expressed their desire to scale up to tackle the issue on a global scale.” The idea for the Plastic Pledge was born after which MVO Nederland turned to its extensive network of entrepreneurs in the tourism sector. Saskia: “Initially we aimed at fifty participants in the Netherlands. We ended up with over one hundred and fifty signatories from all over the world, and the number is still rising.”
Right now, the roadmap with concrete goals and a monitoring system is being developed with a launch scheduled for the first quarter of 2020. The goals that will be set will apply to all parties around the world. And then? Saskia Pepping: “We won't stop when the roadmap is in place. That will just be the start! Signing the Plastic Pledge cannot be an empty promise. We're already actively supporting the participants in reducing plastic waste and we'll keep doing so when we have the roadmap. We'll closely monitor the progress of each signatory. Doing nothing is not an option.” And the long term ambition? “We want to get rid of all unnecessary plastic in the tourism sector by 2025 and use circular alternatives for the rest,” says Saskia.
"Plastic pollution is a major challenge, both for the attractiveness of the destinations and for the environment.
TUI Group has already implemented significant plastic reductions, but we're convinced that by joining forces we can scale up faster. It's excellent that MVO Nederland has managed to persuade so many companies to sign the International Tourism Plastic Pledge.”
HEAD OF SUSTAINABILITY, TUI BENELUX
TOURISM & CHEMISTRY - WHAT?
At MVO Nederland, the Tourism and Chemistry networks are working together on circular plastic initiatives in Indonesia - at first glance an unexpected collaboration.
However, Elsbeth Roelofs, head of the Chemistry Network, explains that it is exactly the right combination: “Reducing and collecting plastic waste at holiday destinations is one thing, but for a circular business model you also need to develop a market for recycled plastics and to realise that you need good quality recycled plastics. That’s where chemistry comes in.”
MVO Nederland invites Dutch and Indonesian companies and organisations to get involved in circular plastic projects. Elsbeth: “Examples are projects that encourage waste collection, improve the quality of recycled plastic or give
‘useless’ waste like bags and foils a proper second life.” The Netherlands is ahead of Indonesia in collecting and recycling waste, though both countries have plenty of room for improvement.
“The bottom line is that we're in this together. With a large business network and extensive experience of transition projects, MVO Nederland is the right strategic partner. We also work closely with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry.”
PLASTIC PLEDGE ONLINE
To create awareness of the International Tourism Plastic Pledge, signatories shared their own holiday destination postcards on social media, saying:
WE SIGNED THE PLASTIC PLEDGE!
That made the world aware of their promise to work towards a plastic-free industry. It resulted in a wide social media reach - both in the tourism sector and beyond.
PLASTIC PLEDGE SIGNATORIES
AccorHotels Services The Netherlands B.V.
Adventure Specialists B.V. (Koning Aap, Shoestring, YourWay2GO)
Alaska Travel Connections
All for Nature Travel
Askja Reizen B.V.
Better Places Travel
Breda University of Applied Sciences
Climate Neutral Group
Conscious Hotels BV
Corendon international Travel bv
Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative
de Jong Intra Vakanties
De Reis Expert
Diving World Nederland B.V.
Erlebe fernreisen GmbH
Experience Travel (UK) Ltd
Face2Face Travel BV
Fairaway Travel GmbH
Foundation for Environmental Education (Green Key)
FOX, verre reizen van ANWB
Happy Trails Asia
Hoogstins World Travel Advisors
HZ University of Applied Sciences
IJsland Tours BV
Institute Factory of Sustainable Tourism, GoodPlace
Jan Treks and Travels
Kay Tours Mexico
Khiri Travel Indonesia
Kupers Reisinfo BV
Local Hero Travel
Lotus Asia Tours
Luxury Travel Vietnam
NBTC Holland Marketing
NHL Stenden, Academy of Leisure & Tourism
NOVI TRAVEL (MONTENEGRO REIZEN)
Onderweg Reizen begeleide vakanties
Passaat verre reizen
Pharos Reizen van ANWB
PT Antar Anda
Pure Latin America
Radisson Hotel Group
Ramada by Wyndham Downtown Dubai
Reis & Zo
Reisbureau Buitenlandsche Zaken
Reisbureau Schoenmaeckers Limburg BV
reisbureau Vice Versa
RESPONSible Travel Peru
River Mekong Travels & Tours Myanmar
Saxion University of Applied Sciences
Saxion University of Applied Sciences
Sea Going Green
Shyok River Lodge
Singha Reizen/Mekong Reizen/Indus Reizen/Sakura Reizen
Stichting Dolfijn Vakanties
The Travel Club
Tot hier en verder
Travel Without Plastic
Travelife for Tour operators
TUI Care Foundation
Vacanceselect Group - Alkmaar office
Vakantie Xperts Avanti
VakantieXperts de Groot
Van Rooy Reizen
Vietnam Bike Tours
VNB betekisvol ontmoeten
VNC Asia Travel
Wind of Renewal for WELCOMMON HOSTEL in Athens
This initiative is supported by WWF-NL