TIAC Talk Articles > Single-Use Plastics

Single-Use Plastics

posted on February 7, 2020

This year TIAC along with sustainability experts, Synergy-Corporate Sustainability Management, will bring you a series of articles and actionable insights on tourism & sustainability issues and trends impacting our industry.

The second one in this series:


Tackling Single-Use Plastics in Tourism 

Author: Kayli Anderson, Managing Partner, Synergy Enterprises


Tourism has had a long relationship with plastic. Souvenirs were collected in plastic bags, drinks came with plastic straws, and bottled water was always available. These plastics of convenience, however, are polluting our ocean, choking wildlife and having harmful impacts ecosystems. Recent studies plastics are increasingly moving up the food chain and into the food we consume.

Each year, over 8 million tonnes of plastics enter our oceans. By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Plastic pollution is having a significant impact on tourism. It washes up on our shores covering and closing beaches, such as Thailand’s iconic Maya Bay. Bali has declared a garbage emergency and is using industrial equipment to clean hundreds of tonnes of trash from their beaches. From uninhabited beaches in Tasmania, to the remote beaches of British Columbia, plastic waste is a growing problem for coastal ecosystems.

And while we may think that we are doing the right thing by recycling, in Canada only 9% of plastics are recycled into new materials, and a recent investigation of three Canadian recyclers found only 1 of 3 shipments were recycled.

Plastic from single use items is the largest source of plastic found on beaches.  Luckily, it is the simplest to avoid.

There is a world-wide movement to reduce single use plastics in our daily lives, with over a dozen municipalities implementing bans, and further regulation considered at the Federal level. The majority of Canadians support a single use plastics ban.

Marriott, the world’s largest hotel group, recently announced they will stop using plastic mini toiletry bottles in all 7,000 properties by December 2020.

7 actions to reduce single use plastics

  • Choose reusable over disposable
  • Choose biodegradable where single use items are needed
  • Offer guests reusable drink containers at or near cost
  • Switch to refillable toiletry dispensers in washrooms
  • Ask suppliers to ship with reusable containers
  • Use reusable containers for storing prepared ingredients and pre-portioned items. Also use washable lids for deli insert trays.
  • Purchase items in bulk