• What Is the Global Tourism Plastic Initiative?

Waste Management

What Is the Global Tourism Plastic Initiative?

Feb 22 2020

Last month, the Fitur International Tourism Fair in Madrid, Spain saw the launch of the Global Tourism Plastic Initiative (GTPI), which aims to reduce the consumption of plastic within the tourism industry and recycle as much of the material as possible. Backed by the UN’s Environment Programme, the GTPI is a joint venture between the Travel Foundation and the World Tourism Organisation.

“Through the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, we are creating a supportive network for businesses and governments to close the loop around plastic,” explained Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation. “[We have] a long track record of successfully working with hotels and other businesses to reduce their plastic and other waste. This is currently our focus in Cyprus, Mauritius and Saint Lucia where we are working at both policy and operational level.”

Tackling the problem at its root

Plastic pollution is becoming an increasingly concerning issue (with microplastics a potentially even more dangerous problem) and its effects are felt all across the globe. While strides are being taken to limit the consumption of plastics in more developed countries, where charges for plastic bags have been introduced in many European nations and single-use plastics are being gradually phased out, the issue is often not quite so well publicised or understood in many far-flung tourist destinations.

As such, tour operators, hotels and airlines can play a pivotal role in raising awareness about plastic pollution in parts of the world where it is still not a mainstream concern, as well as doing their bit to reduce their own plastic footprint. This means eliminating the use of unnecessary plastic items and replacing them with biodegradable alternatives, as well as modifying the design, consumption and disposal of those plastics which cannot be avoided in order to ensure they do not end up in landfill or, worse yet, the ocean.

Ambitious objectives

The GTPI has been set up in order to try and fulfil those goals, encouraging companies operating within the travel industry to phase out the use of single-use plastic items altogether by 2025. They also aim to improve current recycling and composting rates for plastic waste, ensuring that as high a percentage of the substance as possible is given a new lease of life and does not simply go to waste. More outlandish schemes to clean up plastic pollution include the futuristic combination of forensic science and artificial intelligence, but the GTPI aims to make a difference by concentrating on the basics.

By issuing regular reports on the progress being made by companies in particular and the industry in general, which will be freely obtainable by the general public, the GTPI can offer incentives for businesses to set themselves apart from the competition by advertising their environmental credentials. In a world that is increasingly preoccupied with sustainability, that could be a powerful motivator in tackling plastic pollution once and for all.


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