ABTA joins global tourism initiative to take on plastic pollution

ABTA – The Travel Association has today become a signatory of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, led by the United Nations Environment Programme and World Tourism Organization, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution. It enables businesses and governments to take concerted action, leading by example in the shift towards a circularity in the use of plastics.

As a member of the Advisory Committee for the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, ABTA has contributed to its co-creation. Now, as a signatory, the travel association pledges to help eliminate, innovate and ‘circulate’ (i.e. reuse, recover and regenerate) plastics.

Specifically, ABTA commits to continue encouraging Members to tackle plastics as part of a broader approach to waste management through ABTA’s sustainability programme, Better Places. ABTA has been active on waste management for some time, with the launch of ABTA’s plastics guidance in February 2019 and with Travelife, ABTA’s internationally recognised accommodation sustainability company. Among its many functions, Travelife supports hotels in their initiatives to tackle plastic pollution.

Clare Jenkinson, ABTA Head of Sustainability, said:

“As the tourism industry reviews health and safety protocols in light of COVID-19, pressure to use single use plastics has once again increased. We want to support our Members to make the right choices for their business, and to manage waste without compromising the health and safety of customers and staff.

“Our sustainability programmes – Better Places and Travelife– will help us engage with our Members and give them the necessary tools to see this change happen.

“We hope that this will encourage the international collaboration required to tackle plastics.”

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative requires tourism organisations to make a set of concrete and actionable commitments by 2025:

Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and items by 2025.
Take action to move from single-use to re-use models or reusable alternatives by 2025;

Engage the value chain to move towards 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

Take action to increase the amount of recycled content across all plastic packaging and items used.

Commit to collaborate and invest to increase the recycling and composting rates for plastics.

Report publicly and annually on progress made towards these targets.
To accomplish this vision, tourism companies and destinations commit to stop consuming plastic items they don’t need; to innovate, so all plastics they do need are designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted; and circulate everything they use to keep it in the economy and out of the environment.

While transitioning to circularity in the use of this resource, the tourism sector can make positive contributions like reducing landfill, natural resource depletion and greenhouse gas emissions; raising awareness of conservation among staff and guests to avoid single-use plastic products; influencing their suppliers to produce more sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic products; working with governments to improve local waste infrastructure and community facilities; and creating sustainable livelihoods and long-term community prosperity in harmony with nature.

The initiative is developed within the framework of the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the One Planet network, a multi-stakeholder partnership that aims to implement the Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12) in relation to sustainable consumption and production, one of the 17 goals adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The initiative acts as the tourism sector interface of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which unites more than 450 businesses, governments, and other organisations to address plastic waste and pollution at its source.

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