A new United Nations initiative aimed at ridding the tourism industry of all plastic products has garnered support from a variety of hotel and travel operators.
Three leading hotel operators – Six Senses Hotels, Resorts and Spas; Accor Group, Club Med and Hostelworld Group – have all signed on as founding signatories of the initiative, which is being led by the UN World Tourism Organisation as part of the UN Environment Programme, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Other signatories include regional tourism associations in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, South America along with non-government organisations, suppliers, business associations, consultancies and certification schemes.
A key strategy behind the initiative is to understand and reduce the overall life cycle of plastics, from fossil fuel extraction through to disposal. The movement aims to cut to the core of plastic manufacturing, integrate sustainable and compostable alternatives and ultimately promote a de-plasticised lifestyle.
Across the resort group – the company has committed to eliminating all plastic packaging from rooms and service areas; introducing reusable solutions for products such as cling film and packaging; working with suppliers to reduce and ultimately end supplies of plastic packaging; participate in take-back programs and committing zero waste to landfill by 2022.
In joining the initiative, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas CEO, Neil Jacobs, says the organisation is committed to not just banning single-use plastics, but eliminating use of the material in all its forms by 2022.
“The travel industry is growing at a rapid rate on a planet that has limited natural resources,” Jacobs said.
“That means all hospitality leaders have a responsibility to stand up and be accountable for making a sustainable difference and achieving measurable results. Our health and wellness ethos is around making our guests feel better inside and out, so it makes sense for our social and environmental policies to make them feel good about their choice of vacation and their impact on the ecosystems around them too.”
Six Senses was purchased last year by InterContinental Hotels Group, which has also committed to a more sustainable future by introducing bulk amenities and phasing out single-use plastic bottles across its global hotel network over the next 1-2 years.