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In this edition

Newsletter - July 2021

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is honored and happy to welcome 32 new signatories from 20 different countries. This fourth public announcement brings the initiative to a total of 93 signatories. These signatories have set concrete targets on circular economy of plastics in the tourism sector around elimination of unnecessary and problematic plastic items and packaging, introduction of reuse models and work on value chain level to improve recyclability of plastics and to support purchasing of plastics with recycled content. 

For the occasion, a panel discussion “Eliminate. Innovate. Circulate. – Strategies from the signatories of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative” will take place today, on 8th of July, 2pm CEST. 

Click here to register for the event

Click here to learn more about the signatories


Three different types of businesses reflect on how they promote the circular economy of plastics 

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative proposes a systemic approach to plastic pollution where first, we eliminate all problematic and unnecessary plastic items; second, we innovate to ensure that the plastics which are still in use are reusable, recyclable or compostable; and third, we circulate, to keep plastics in the economy instead of in the environment.

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative (GTPI) brings together all sizes and types of businesses and value chain stakeholders to share best practices, knowledge and experience. This diversity highlights the sectoral need for a systemic response to plastic pollution and the GTPI’s potential to promote solutions that can be implemented locally and scaled up globally. 

The following interviews show how the hostel La Bicicleta, Chumbe Island Coral Park, and the Travel Agent Hostelworld, three signatories of the GTPI, are addressing address plastic pollution each at their scale to promote the shift towards circularity in the use of plastics. 

The interviews were conducted by Sustainable First, also a signatory of the GTPI. 

Hostelworld Group – Global Communications Manager, Alice Ackermann


Hostelworld Group is a global Online Travel Agent (OTA) focused on the hostel market that connects young and independent travelers with over 17,700 hostel properties across more than 179 countries. 

Question (Q): Why is committing to tackle plastic pollution important to you?  

Answer (A): Our customers are passionate about the environment – our recent survey shows that most travelers (63%) believe companies should be doing more to help customers travel sustainably. We are committed to building a better world for our customers, employees and hostel partners and this is a great step towards achieving this.   

Q: Where did you start from and what are your next steps to implement a circular economy of plastics? 

A: As a leading OTA for the hostel industry, our role as a facilitator is to help share information, resources and advice with our hostels partners to enable as many hostels as possible to make steps to reducing their plastic consumption. We've hosted multiple webinars and sent regular emails to showcase the GTPI. Currently we've encouraged 13 of our hostel partners to become official signatories of the GTPI, with a further 27 hostels in the final stages. 

Q: Do you have an interesting example/project that you want to share with us?  

A: Working together with our hostel partners that have already become signatories and other eco-hostels, we are developing a go-to handbook to help any hostel easily identify ways to reduce their plastic consumption. The past 18 months has been very difficult for hostels, our guide aims to help hostels make even the smallest steps with minimal cost to begin making a difference. 

Besides, we are currently working on implementing a new badge to identify eco-hostels and GTPI signatories, which will highlight to our customers the efforts being made to build a better world. As part of this year’s HOSCAR (Hostelworld Customer Annual Ratings) awards, we introduced a new category to recognise the work of our hostel partners in Sustainability. The hostels shortlisted displayed innovative and tremendous actions in eliminating plastics from their operations and limiting their impact on the environment.

To read the full interview, click here

Chumbe Island Coral Park (CHICOP) Zanzibar / Tanzania - Advisor, Diana Koerner, Director, Sibylle Riedmiller, Conservation and Education Coordiator, Ulli Kloiber

Chumbe Island Coral Park has in 1992 created the World’s first privately managed Marine park and the first one fully financed through ecotourism. The overall aim of Chumbe Island Coral Park is to create a model of sustainable park management, where ecotourism supports nature conservation, research and Environmental Education programs for local schools and communities.

Q: Why is committing to tackle plastic pollution important to you? 

A: The circular economy has from the beginning been an integral part of the design and operational systems, and this was also specifically outlined in the consecutive Management plans from 1995, including the one in force now for 2017-2027. “Going local” was not only the healthiest choice for our cuisine, but supported also local producers and was the most cost-effective thing to do. In the lodge we have also always provided soaps and shampoo in glass dispensers and recommend to our guests to bring only biodegradable, environmentally sensitive toiletries to the island. 

Q: What advice would you give to other SMEs to implement these ambitious goals? 

A: What worked for us is to integrate sustainability within the DNA of our operations. Only by having a holistic approach the commitment to a circular economy of plastics and other materials will be fully embraced and upheld on a long-term basis. It is a process and results will not come overnight. It is important to accompany every action with the necessary training and awareness raising among staff. Due to the size of our operations, we have a very close relationship with all of our guests and can really commit to inform them and raise awareness. As for the supplies, it is also a process and it is important to identify those players that share the same values early on, this way you keep each other motivated and can grow the positive impact gradually. 

To read the full interview, click here

La Bicicleta Hostal (Nicaragua) - Co-Founder and General Manager, Paola Zuniga  

La Bicicleta Hostal is a project developed by four young Nicaraguan women committed to encouraging a travelling culture based on social responsibility, environmental sustainability and the promotion of culture and local consumption and production. It contributes to the protection of natural resources by attracting tourists to parks and protected areas, promoting rural tourism and implementing sustainable practices and green technologies. 

Q: Where did you start from and what are your next steps to implement a circular economy of plastics?   

A: We started in 2015 by simply separating all our plastic waste, using refillable cleaning products complemented by a strong internal recycling policy. These practices were rare in Nicaragua at that time. Today we are working on finding refillable hygienic products, we have partnered with a recycling company that offers to exchange plastics for furniture/accessories and we now host two zero waste shops (Granel and Terra verde). We are moving from "recycling your plastic waste" towards "eliminating" single use plastics completely.  

Q: How do you measure the impact of these changes? 

A: A. Our own plastic use: we have almost completely eliminated the use of single use plastics by adopting a wide range of business and lifestyle changes which include shopping differently, having a closer relationship with providers and customers. This has decreased our plastic consumption by about 90%. B. The growth of the zero-waste community: the fact that there are now at least three proper zero-waste shops in the city and that our online community keeps getting bigger and bigger are clear indicators that these changes are generating a snowball effect of change. 

To read the full interview, click here


Release of the summary report on single-use plastic products and their alternatives 

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiatives released their new summary report today. Based on the report series ‘Single-use Plastic Products and their Alternatives’, jointly authored by the Life Cycle Initiative and UNEP, this document summarises, from the perspective of the tourism sector, the most important findings of the series. 

This report, analysed in more details later in this newsletter, aims to carefully inform tourism stakeholders about the topic and provide evidence-based guidance for decision-making towards eliminating or reducing single-use plastic products.  

Read the report here

Decision Trees: tackling the issue of five most polluting single-use plastic products

UNEP and WTTC have identified in their new report Rethinking Single-Use Plastic Products in Travel & Tourism the five most frequently polluting single-use plastic products (SUPPs) in the accommodation sub-sector. These are water bottles, disposable toiletries, plastic bags and bin liners, food packaging, and cups. 

To facilitate decision-making processes that consider the environmental and operational trade-offs, simplified decision trees were created for these five key product types. Each decision tree seeks to prioritise the elimination of waste first and foremost, but also provides a logical path through the waste hierarchy, highlighting some key pros and cons of each step. Where steps to eliminate or reduce waste are not possible, the minimum desired outcome is to prevent SUPPs from becoming litter.

These practical recommendations, which are geared to individual businesses and local policymakers, incorporates life cycle thinking and is designed to inspire action. Those are not exhaustive and in fact, businesses as well as policymakers would benefit from carrying out a similar exercise relevant to their own specific situations.

You can find more information about the Decision Trees here

European Commission has released guidance on single-use plastics products 

On 31 May 2021, the EC released guidance on the interpretation and implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/904 on single-use plastics which aims to fight marine litter and plastic pollution”. Through the EU’s directive on single-use plastics, different measures are being applied to the products, taking into account more sustainable alternatives when available. 

This directive focuses on the 10 most commonly found single-use plastic items on European beaches, which represent 70% of all marine litter in the region. These include, among others, food and beverage containers, as well as plates, cutlery and straws, which have been banned on 3 July 2021. 

Learn more about the role of the European Union in the fight against marine litter 

Business call for a Treaty on Plastic Pollution 

In a joint report, The Business Case for a UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, WWF and Boston Consulting Group, set out the opportunity for a new global UN treaty on plastic pollution. Based on the findings of the report, over 50 leading companies from across the plastics value chain have endorsed the Business Call for a UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution. Both the report and the business manifesto make the case for increased ambition to harmonise policy efforts, enhance investment planning, stimulate innovation, and coordinate infrastructure development internationally.  

WWF and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation will be jointly hosting a virtual discussion on the proposed UN Treaty for plastic pollution with investors, banks and insurance companies who are interested in learning more about the political process and the opportunities it offers for businesses and financial institutions.  

The event will take place on Tuesday 13 July, 15 – 15:45 BST 

Register for the virtual discussion, and download the report here 


New report on single-use plastic products aims to advance sustainability in travel and tourism 

The World Travel & Tourism Council and the UN Environment Programme, one of the leading organizations of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, have launched a report in June, addressing the complex issue of single-use plastic products within the travel and tourism. 

‘Rethinking Single-Use Plastic Products in Travel & Tourism’ is a first step to mapping single-use plastic products across the travel and tourism value chain, identifying hotspots for environmental leakages, and providing practical and strategic recommendations for businesses and policymakers. It is intended to help stakeholders take collective steps towards coordinated actions and policies that drive a shift towards reduce and reuse models, in line with circularity principles,  

Discover how to redefine unnecessary single-use plastic products here


Addressing pollution from single-use plastic products: A Life Cycle Approach –  Key messages for tourism businesses 

Every year, an estimated 100-150 million tonnes of plastics are produced for single-use purposes and about 8 million tonnesof plastics are dumped into the oceans. The tourism sector is a significant contributor to the problem of plastic pollution, and eliminating single-use plastic products across the tourism industry thus represents an opportunity to tackle plastic pollution at the source and enhance the contribution of tourism to the protection of ecosystems. 

This report highlights the role of reuse models to eliminate the use of unnecessary and problematic plastic items, outlines the aspects upon which engagement throughout the value chain is required to spur innovation, and reinforces the need for context-based approaches to ensure plastics are circulated back into the economy rather than thrown away after use.   

Focusing on plastic bottles, plastic cups, plastic bags, take-away food packaging and tableware, it supports tourism businesses and destinations to identify the most appropriate options for their context.  

The document puts forward eight principles for action towards eliminating pollution from single-use plastic products in tourism businesses’: 

  1. Reduce the use of single-use products regardless of the material (e.g., glass, paper, plastic, etc.). 

  1. Promote reusable products and systems in your tourism business – the most sustainable product is the multi-use product. 

  1. Use tourist and staff-targeted strategies and communications to ensure products are continuously reused.  

  1. Aim to decrease the environmental footprint of production (through reuse, demanding products with high recycled content, and partnering with suppliers engaging in sustainable production methods) 

  1. Engage with suppliers and relevant actors in the value chain to procure products that are designed to be fit for purpose, durable, and functional. 

  1. Ensure that resource-efficient washing technologies are in place. 

  1. Establish good waste separation systems in your tourism business to ensure products receive proper end-of-life treatment. 

  1. Know your context when making decisions related to single-use plastic products (Cultural norms, production methods, waste management technology infrastructure available, tourist behaviors, regulatory framework). 

Read the report here
You can find this report as well as other tools and resources to implement the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative here


Recommendations for a responsible recovery:  
Develop robust cleaning and sanitization procedures which in turn support the integration of reuse models

  • Opting for reusable plastic products is a logical investment for stakeholders. Reuse models allow stakeholders to directly ensure the application of sound hygiene and sanitization procedures and to gain greater control over such processes.  
  • Developing clear and comprehensive protocols for staff to ensure successful implementation of health and sanitization procedures is necessary, as safety and hygiene are critical for both single-use and reuse models. 
  • Cleaning and sanitization measures should take into consideration environmental, health, and safety risks of the products and procedures put in place. For instance, the World Health Organisation advises using the correct dosage of cleaning and disinfecting chemicals and checking the recommended operating temperatures of dishwashing/laundry machines. 

Learn more on how the tourism sector can continue taking action on plastic pollution during COVID-19 recovery 


The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution. It enables businesses, governments, and other tourism stakeholders to take concerted action, leading by example in the shift towards circularity in the use of plastics and requires tourism organizations to make a set of concrete and actionable commitments by 2025.
Join the initiative and be part of the solution to plastic pollution

Make sure you sign-up to the GTPI newsletter here 

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