January 11, 2018

In the last edition of Brighter Thinking, we reviewed the Plastic Ocean documentary, the facts behind microplastics and how the tourism industry can be a force for positive change to minimise our plastic footprint. 

So what’s happened since? Firstly and most recently Theresa May has announced a war on plastic waste, with proposed policies including plastic-free aisles in supermarkets and a tax on takeaway containers.  Theresa has also made it her ambition to eliminate plastic waste within 25 years so it’s been a very positive start to the year for our environment.  Furthermore and through its Responsible Tourism division, Brighter has been busy travelling the world to discuss the issues and consider the solutions in destinations such as Belize and Azores. In October the Belize Tourism Board dedicated a half-day of its annual industry conference to discuss sustainable tourism and why it’s crucial to the welfare of the Belizean environment, its main tourist attractions and the long-term livelihoods of its residents. In December I attended my first ever plastic-free event, the Azores 2017 Towards Sustainable Tourism conference, where I was given a stainless steel bottle on arrival, which I filled at dedicated filling stations; my name badge was made from recycled paper and string; and I ate delicious food prepared from locally-sourced produce, as a taste of the authentic dishes on offer in the region

At WTM this year, Brighter participated in a presentation and expert panel discussion on Oceans of Plastic at the Responsible Tourism Theatre. Academics, a leading waste management organisation, marketers, the founder of a water filtration system solution and an education programme focused on our oceans provided different perspectives on the issues. Whilst all this was going on a record-breaking number of viewers (14.1M per episode) were watching Blue Planet II, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, where more than one episode dedicated time to addressing plastic pollution.

Given the success of the session at WTM, the interest from the tourism industry on this issue and the overwhelming feeling of ‘what can I/we do to help?’ the expert panel has since met at Brighter HQ to discuss how we can guide, support and engage with the industry. As a result, we are working towards providing a platform/clinic to ensure the tourism industry becomes a force for positive change to best tackle plastic pollution.

Our aim is to create a taskforce to help advise the tourism industry on how to focus on reducing plastic waste, whilst furthering the objectives of its partner members (non for profit & private). Once created, the taskforce intends to review the problems to have a better understanding of the tourism industry’s plastic footprint along with the challenges that face us. As a result, work is underway to create a framework for action, setting out potential time scales for delivery and solutions based on different areas of the industry within the tourism supply chain. The types of services on offer will be audits, risk assessment, consultancy, workshops and potentially a conference. There’s also an opportunity to create a set of standards and accreditation scheme for industry and boards to work towards.

The work above is evidence of how responsible tourism will become the new mainstream for all parts of the tourism industry, so isn’t it better to come on board now and find out what your business plastic footprint might be? As a result you might build, better, richer, more meaningful and cleaner experiences for your customers but equally you will become a force for positive change.

Author: Trudi Pearce

Partner – Marketing & Responsible Tourism  

If you’d like to find our more please do not hesitate to contact: trudi.pearce@brightergroup.com

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