Plastic-free holidays on Balearic Islands
Worldwide, up to 13 million tons of plastic waste go into the oceans each year. According to estimates, about 80% of the garbage found in the sea is plastic waste. The Mediterranean is one of the most affected marine regions. In addition to environmental problems, the waste also causes economic risks, e.g. for tourism in coastal regions suffering from polluted beaches.
The tourism industry is not only affected by the impact of the high volume of plastic, but also contributes to the generation of plastic waste. Many products that are purchased for the use in the hotel kitchen or housekeeping come in plastic packaging. As part of their holiday, guests are offered single-use plastic items such as drinking cups or straws. Furthermore, many tourists use single-use plastic products such as plastic bottles or bags on excursions.
UNEP considers coastal tourism to be the largest source of plastic waste in the seas, alongside fisheries, construction and households. An EU study also shows that 40-50% of the waste in the Mediterranean come from touristic use.
In January 2018, the European Commission defined an European strategy for the future use of plastics for the first time. The plans are to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics and limit the use of microbeads.
The Government of the Balearic Islands has set ambitious goals with its new waste law "Ley de residuos y suelos contaminados". As stated in the law, the volume of plastic waste shall be reduced by 10% by 2021 (compared to 2010) and by 20% by 2030. The law provides, among other things, a ban on the use of single-use plastic items used in catering such as plastic straws, cutlery and tableware.
In addition to these legal requirements, the members of the sustainability initiative Futouris e.V. collaborate with the government of the Balearic Islands and local organisations such as Fundación Save the Med in order to significantly reduce tourism-related plastic waste in the Balearics and to increase the recycling rate.
The aim of the joint project is to reduce the amount of tourism-related plastic waste in the Balearic Islands and to improve the recycling process and rate.
In the first step, a preliminary study will be carried out to identify the status quo and possible potentials in ten hotels on the Balearic Islands. The results will be presented and discussed at a stakeholder workshop. Practical pilot measures will be developed and tested together with the participating hotels, representatives of the tour operators, local NGOs and Balearic waste management authorities. Specific programs to reduce plastic waste and improve recycling around ports will be developed in collaboration with cruise lines and ports.
Furthermore, through the development and provision of communication materials for hotels and cruise liners, holidaymakers are encouraged to learn about the initiative and how they can support it.
After successful testing specific recommendations for measures, best practice examples and suggestions for alternative, plastic-free products are provided to all tourism companies in a free, practice-oriented guideline so that a multiplication of the solution approach is guaranteed.
As part of pilot projects, the developed and tested measures are implemented in hotels and cruise ships.