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Plastic Pollution – A Global Issue

April 17, 2017

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Xenia zu Hohenlohe

Plastic pollution is a global issue that impacts our ocean, our health and our well-being. In 2011, ‘Science for Environmental Policy’, documented how plastic waste disposal harms the environment and poses threat to human health[1]. Plastics are ingested and entangle marine wildlife.

The film Plastic Oceans highlights that more than eight million tons of plastic are dumped in our ocean every year. This is of great concern because all plastic residue in the ocean and on land becomes part of the ecosystem and therefore of the food chain: plastic chemicals and residues are in the food we eat.

As sustainability specialists within the hospitality industry, Considerate Hoteliers has been delving into the complex world of plastic waste in hotels, restaurants, venues and destinations. Not only must the hospitality industry address plastic waste management due to its negative environmental impact; but also, because it reduces operating costs. For example, replacing plastic with more durable products like glass is like buying a house (glass) rather than continuing to pay rent (plastic). Furthermore, with a reduction in plastic waste there is a reduction in waste collections, which culminates in decreased waste disposal fees.

There are two ways to manage the plastic waste problem: reduce and recycle. As a first step, it is important to monitor the quantities and types of plastic waste produced within the business. Considerate Hoteliers has developed methods to measure different waste streams – in alignment with WRAP –  that can be recorded in the Con-Serve™ sustainability data management system. Once the hotel tracks their plastic waste then it can start to tackle the problem. Considerate Hoteliers offers advisory services including: CSR strategy, training, communication development and stakeholder engagement to approach waste management solutions. Plastic waste solutions range from revisiting a hotel’s procurement policy to clearly labeling recycling bins.

Considerate Hoteliers recommendations are aligned to global organizations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which are leading the movement towards a circular economy.

[1] Science for Environmental Policy, DG Environment News Alert Service. (2011). Plastic Waste: Ecological and Human Health Impacts, European Commissionlink.