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Travel and tourism report outlines action to eradicate single use plastic

A new initiative aims to stamp out the use of single use plastic across the travel and tourism sectors.

A joint report published by the World Travel & Tourism Council and the United Nations Environment Programme is a first step to mapping single-use plastic, identifying hotspots for environmental leakages, and providing practical and strategic recommendations for businesses and policymakers.

With around 90% of ocean plastic derived from land-based sources, the annual damage of plastics to marine ecosystems amounts to $13 billion a year.

The report recognises that global solutions are required to address corporate concerns about the use of single-use plastic products.

It is intended to help stakeholders take collective steps that drive a shift towards ‘reduce and reuse’ models.

Plastic waste has increased from 1,500 tons to 6,300 tons per day, owing to soaring home deliveries of food, according to the Thailand Environment Institute.

However, the pandemic has also led to consumer demand for green tourism experiences around the world, with a 2019 global study finding 82% of respondents being aware of plastic waste while taking practical action to tackle pollution.

WTTC acting chief executive Virginia Messina said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the sustainability agenda with businesses and policymakers now putting an even stronger focus on it.

“As a growing priority, businesses are expected to continue to reduce single-use plastic products waste for the future and drive circularity to protect not only our people, but importantly, our planet.

“It is also becoming clear that consumers are making more conscious choices, and increasingly supporting businesses with sustainability front of mind.”

UNEP economy division director Sheila Aggarwal-Khan said: “Travel and tourism has a key role to play in addressing the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, as well as making circularity in the use of plastics a reality.

“The advent of Covid-19 and consequent proliferation of single-use plastic products has added urgency to the crises.

“With this report, we hope to encourage stakeholders in this industry to come together to address this multifaceted challenge. Only by doing so, can we ensure meaningful and durable change.”

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