Plastics: reducing the threat to our oceans

Plastic waste in our oceans is a major environmental hazard. Around 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year. In an attempt to protect the marine environment from further plastic pollution, the EU has banned most disposable plastic products from 2021 onwards. The TUI Group, a first mover in the tourism industry, has already introduced pioneering changes.

No to disposable plastic items

The TUI Group is involved in the global battle to prevent the littering of our oceans. It has numerous initiatives to avoid and minimise the use of disposable plastics. On a group-wide basis it has eliminated 140 million non-disposable plastic items and, by 2020, that figure will have increased to 250 million.

A plastic-free holiday with the Mein Schiff fleet

TUI Cruises’ ‘Wasteless’ plastic reduction campaign, which was launched last year, has been a resounding success. By the end of 2020 the single-use plastic products on the ships in the Mein Schiff fleet will have been reduced to the minimum and replaced by sustainable alternatives. Examples include drinking straws, which will be made of paper or glass in the future and only provided with certain drinks if a guest requests them. 1.5 million plastic cocktail stirrers will be replaced by wooden alternatives. And the towelling slippers for guests won’t be packaged in future – which means 250,000 fewer plastic slipper bags. TUI Cruises eliminated more than 13 million plastic items from its ships in 2018 alone.

Assuming greater responsibility

The TUI Group hasn’t waited for the EU legislation to enter into force before taking action on plastics. It is clear that for business, politics and society, the Herculean task of cleaning up our oceans is only just beginning. There are two main starting points. Firstly, people have to be encouraged to recycle more. Consumers are a particularly important group of recyclers to target because recycled plastic often differs in appearance from the conventional product. Plastic waste is also associated with vast development policy potential. 90 percent of marine waste is discharged into the oceans from only ten rivers in Asia and Africa. Europe could pass on its expertise on waste avoidance to these regions. The TUI Group already has projects tackling this issue at many of its destinations.

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