Tourism is a major contributor to plastics pollution in the Mediterranean, according to a report by campaign group WWF Germany.

The WWF report Stop the Flood of Plastic, published in December, argues: “The tourism industry is one of the main causes of the problem [in the Mediterranean] because the flood of plastic comes with tourists.

“During peak season, the volume of plastic waste in the Mediterranean and [on] its beaches increases by as much as 30%.”

The report recommends 10 measures hotels can take to cut waste and combat marine pollution, arguing: “This is all-the-more necessary when municipal waste systems and infrastructure are overwhelmed.”

The most-effective measures include:

• Creating an inventory of single-use products and packaging.
• Reducing single-use packaging and products in procurement and in operations.
• Providing drinking-water dispensers or water-treatment systems instead of bottled water.
• Separating waste to “enable optimal recycling”.

WWF also urges hotels to work together and with tour operators and other stakeholders to improve suppliers’ services and municipal waste infrastructure.

It recommends hotel operators involve and educate employees and guests, noting: “Tourist expectations can be an obstacle, for example when pre-portioned butter or jam are perceived as hygienic or shampoo bottles in bathrooms seen as luxurious amenities.”

The WFF also argues: “Replacing single-use plastic with disposable products made of other materials is a dead end.

“Disposable products made of wood or paper do not, per se, have a better ecological footprint. Bioplastics cannot always be recycled, are often sorted in composting plants and then end up in landfills or are incinerated.

“Avoidance and re-usable alternatives are most effective.”

A WWF survey of hotels in Greece, Italy, France and Spain found the sector “willing to take action” and noted: “In everyday operations, waste separation and purchasing in reusable containers have already been put into practice. Two of the ten measures identified have thus made good progress.

“[But] in other areas, hotels are struggling.

“High costs, inadequate products and services and a lack of suppliers, rigid guest expectations, insufficient knowledge and shortcomings in waste management are just some of the obstacles.”

Click here to access the report