Plastic Free Holidays in Mallorca,

Earlier this month TWP was commissioned, amongst other speakers, to present at the Futouris Stakeholder Workshop 'Plastic-Free Holidays' in Mallorca.

Attended by representatives from a number of hotel chains, local organisations and NGOs, hotel associations and public services, the common goal is to position Mallorca as a leading destination when it comes to tackling single-use plastic.

A 3-year project, this is perfectly timed to coincide with the newly proposed waste law for the Balearic Islands, the text of which was recently approved by cabinet. The Environment Minister Vicenc Vidal described it as 'courageous' in the Mallorca Daily Bulletin acknowledging that despite being practical and realistic, it will require a shift change in thinking together with the support of businesses and public authorities.

Currently, the average annual waste produced per resident in the Balearic Islands is 580kg per year, 26% higher than the national average for Mainland Spain.

  • Across the Spanish territories, the Balearics Islands are the second highest consumers of packaging, with the Canary Islands taking first place!

  • In 2018, 58,000kg of waste were collected from the Balearic coastlines, 45% of these were plastics

  • The tourism industry creates elevated amounts of waste and is a major environmental challenge for the islands

The proposed law is designed to see waste at levels that are 10% less than 2010 in 2020 and 20% less by 2030 (in line with European targets). It will also tackle food waste with a challenging target of 50% reduction from 2020 to 2030.

What does this mean for hotels and hospitality businesses?

Firstly, the industry has until January 2021 to prepare for some significant changes, although given the pace of change to date and our plastic habits, this does mean we need to ramp up the gears and engage with staff and guests now to have a chance of meeting these targets.

From January 2021 it will be prohibited to sell, distribute or use:

  • Light single-use bags such as those for shopping or fruit and vegetables

  • Secondary plastic packaging like six pack or 12 pack can rings

  • Single-use glasses, plates, cutlery and trays if they are not compostable

  • Plastic straws, earbuds and lollipop sticks

  • Toner and photocopier cartridges that are not refillable or reusable

  • Lighters with less than 3000 lights

Other measures include:

  • Coffee capsules need to be recyclable or compostable

  • Wet wipe suppliers MUST advise customers that they ARE NOT flushable

  • Large events and shows are prohibited from using single-use cups and glasses for drinks

  • Public service offices and buildings must only use reusable cups and glasses and should maximise the potential for drinking fountains (this includes airports)

  • To serve (filtered) tap water to customers in bars, restaurants and hotels

  • Prohibition of single-use cutlery in bars, restaurants and hotels

  • Prohibition of single-portion servings (butter, jam, honey, chocolate spread, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, vinaigrettes, cereals etc) in bars, restaurants and hotels

  • Prohibition of miniature amenities (shampoo, conditioner, gel, body lotion etc) in hotels

Some hotels and hospitality businesses have recognised early on that these changes are coming and have already taken significant steps towards compliance.

Iberostar's Wave of Change programme is a great example of how a global chain is addressing the issues across very different destinations, cultures and infrastructures.

The Travel Corporation announced ambitious plans to be free from all avoidable single-use plastics by 2022 throughout their global portfolio and smaller, independent accommodations like Footsteps Eco-Lodge in the Gambia are great examples of best practice.

These companies serve as inspiration to those in the industry that have still to get started or are just taking their first steps.

We know that change isn't straightforward and it is going to be hard to shed the single-use habits and expectations of the past 30 years but, there has never been a better time to start.

The 'alternatives' to single-use plastic market is booming and there are new innovations hitting the headlines every week, however we do advise that you take the time to make the right decision for your business.

5 Top Tips for Purchasers:

  1. Spend some time identifying which of the products you purchase at the moment are likely to fall under upcoming legislation and assess your current consumption of these and the cost to your business.

  2. Eliminate those on your list that are unnecessary or just used out of habit lie novelty cocktail stirrers for instance. In our experience this can be up to 15% of your current single-use purchases.

  3. Be clear on the real meaning of marketing terminology - just because a product is recyclable or compostable doesn't mean it will be recycled or composted. If your business does not separate waste for individual collections or if there is no composting infrastructure then these products will end up in landfill or be incinerated.

  4. Involve your current suppliers and encourage them to eliminate or reduce unnecessary packaging.

  5. Don't rush into a decision, it is easy to feel under pressure from legislation and public opinion, but it is important to do the research before you make any big changes that you may come to regret.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the challenge, remember that Travel Without Plastic have created a Let's Reduce Single-Use Toolkit specifically designed to help hotels and accommodation providers to tackle single-use plastics in a practical and cost effective way that saves you significant time and resources.

We encourage a 3-phase approach and take you through the process to achieve change step by step.

  1. Identify your baseline

  2. Engage staff and guests

  3. Implement changes and evaluate the impacts (environmental and financial)

For more information and to hear what others say about our Toolkit, visit our website