Travel firms tackle plastic pollution

Single-use plastic is being eradicated from planes and holiday resorts as companies look to preserve the oceans they rely on for business.

Plastic pollution and its threat to oceans and marine animals is being tackled in a series of environmental initiatives by airlines and travel companies.

Thomas Cook’s #noplaceforplastic campaign has pledged to remove 70 million single-use plastics — equivalent to 3,500 suitcases full — within 12 months.

The holidays giant said research from WWF showing that the amount of plastic litter going into the Mediterranean increases by 40% during the summer months proved the direct link between the travel industry and plastic pollution.

Recycling schemes

Thomas Cook is taking action on items such as straws and stirrers, as well as establishing a pilot scheme in Rhodes to trial sustainable alternatives to plastic products.

As more than a fifth of holidaymakers say they are more likely to throw away plastic rather than recycle while away from home, the company has also announced a scheme to turn discarded plastic inflatables, lilos and swimming armbands into bags and holiday accessories.

Other tour operators and hotels have participated in this summer’s ABTA Make Holidays Greener campaign, helping to remove an estimated 49 tonnes — equivalent to the weight of around 30 cars — through schemes such as offering filtered water instead of bottled water.

Ryanair pledge

Elsewhere in the holiday industry, Hamburg-based TUI Cruises has pledged to give up plastic disposable products on its Mein Schiff fleet by the end of 2020.

And budget carrier Ryanair has said it will eliminate all non-recyclable plastics from its operations by 2023. This will include using environmentally friendly alternatives such a bio-degradable cups, wooden cutlery and paper packaging.

A debate at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London recently considered the efforts of the travel industry in tackling plastic pollution.

WTM London’s Paul Nelson said documentaries such as the BBC’s Blue Planet II had greatly increased awareness among consumers and spurred the industry into action. He added: “The speed with which companies have pledged to tackle plastic waste has been remarkable.”

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