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, 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.”

Saskia Pepping,
Project Manager MVO Nederland


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.”



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.”


To create awareness of the International Tourism Plastic Pledge, signatories shared their own holiday destination postcards on social media, saying:


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.


AccorHotels Services The Netherlands B.V.

Adventure Specialists B.V. (Koning Aap, Shoestring, YourWay2GO)

African Travels

Alaska Travel Connections

All for Nature Travel

AmbianceTravel BV


ANWB Kamperen

ANWB Ledenreizen

Arctic Adventure

Asian Trails

Askja Reizen B.V.

Avila Reizen

Better Places

Better Places Travel

bookdifferent bv

Breda University of Applied Sciences

Captain Cruise


Climate Neutral Group

Conscious Hotels BV

Corendon international Travel bv

Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative

de Jong Intra Vakanties

De Reis Expert


Destinations Travel

Dimsum Reizen

Diving World Nederland B.V.

D-rt Groep

Easia Travel

Erlebe fernreisen GmbH

Estivant Vakanties

EXO Travel

Exodus Travels

Experience Travel (UK) Ltd


Face2Face Travel BV


Fairaway Travel GmbH

Flow Reizen

Footprint Travel

Foundation for Environmental Education (Green Key)

FOX, verre reizen van ANWB

Happy Trails Asia

Hogeschool Inholland

Hogeschool Tio

Hoogstins World Travel Advisors

Hostelling International

HZ University of Applied Sciences

IJsland Tours BV

IndoHolland Tours



Institute Factory of Sustainable Tourism, GoodPlace

Jan Treks and Travels

Kay Tours Mexico

Kelana DMC

Khiri Travel Indonesia

Krabi Spesialisten

Kupers Reisinfo BV

Labrys Reizen

Landal GreenParks

Local Hero Travel

Lotus Asia Tours

Lotus Hotels

Luxury Travel Vietnam

Marlucia Travel

Maroc Travel

Michel Verrast

Mimpi Reizen

Namasté Reizen


NBTC Holland Marketing

NHL Stenden, Academy of Leisure & Tourism

noSun Groepsreizen



Onderweg Reizen begeleide vakanties

Oppenheim Travel

Original Asia

Otium Hotels

Panorama Destination

Passaat verre reizen

Path DMC

Pharos Reizen van ANWB

PT Antar Anda

Pure Latin America

Puur Azië

Radisson Hotel Group

Ramada by Wyndham Downtown Dubai


Reis & Zo

Reisbureau Buitenlandsche Zaken

Reisbureau Schoenmaeckers Limburg BV

reisbureau Vice Versa


Reisorganisatie Fontana

RESPONSible Travel Peru

Riksja Travel

River Mekong Travels & Tours Myanmar

Safari Design


Sawadee reizen

Saxion University of Applied Sciences

Saxion University of Applied Sciences

Sea Going Green

Searious Business

Shyok River Lodge

Singha Reizen

Singha Reizen/Mekong Reizen/Indus Reizen/Sakura Reizen

SNP Natuurreizen


Stichting Dolfijn Vakanties

Stichting KMVK

Thant Myanmar

The Travel Club

Thika Travel

Tico Reizen

Tot hier en verder

Travel Counsellors

Travel Impressions

Travel Nepal

Travel Trend

Travel Without Plastic


Travelife for Tour operators



TUI Care Foundation



Urban Adventures

Vacanceselect Group - Alkmaar office

Vakantie Xperts Avanti

VakantieXperts de Groot

Van Rooy Reizen

Varimli Turizm

Vietnam Bike Tours

Viva Velo

VNB betekisvol ontmoeten

VNC Asia Travel


Wind of Renewal for WELCOMMON HOSTEL in Athens

Yaxa Reizen

This initiative is supported by WWF-NL


Contact Saskia Pepping