If hoteliers abandoned single-use plastics within their establishments, that could, to a larger extent, rank Kenya highly in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.


Plastic waste in Kwa Reuben, Nairobi. Plastic waste is one of the biggest threats to the oceans. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In the name of profit and convenience, single-use plastic manufacturers are choking our planet with a substance that does not just ‘go away’ when tossed into a bin.

Plastic pollution adversely affects our waters, marine life, the food chain and public health.

Since the 1950s, some 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced with less than 10 percent of it recycled. Our oceans bear the brunt of the epidemic, taking in up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic yearly.

TOURISM

Continued expansion of tourism and the hospitality business along the beaches has come at a cost to the marine environment.

Industry players must therefore be in the forefront of addressing the declining health of the marine ecosystem to ensure the sustainability of its economyNations have rallied around the mammoth pressures our oceans and waters face — including plastic pollution — to climate change.

And there is global recognition of the need to develop our waters in an inclusive and sustainable manner for the benefit of all.

Excessive waste, in particular plastic, has been in the news a lot lately, prompting a growing number of hotels and resorts on the Kenyan coast to take steps to eliminate single-use plastic items.

This has been in the quest of achieving a sense of responsible tourism, which formed part of the Blue Economy Conference held in Nairobi late last year.

 

MARINE LIFE

The industry has a huge environmental impact — from the millions of miles delegates have flown to attend events to the reams of paper squeezed into bulging delegate bags and the kilowatts of energy used to light exhibitions and displays around the world.

Green culture is now taking hold and stakeholders are thinking environmental impacts and getting keen to show their sustainability credentials.

Plastic waste is one of the biggest threats to the oceans. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), more than eight million tonnes of plastic leaks into the ocean every year — equivalent to dumping a garbage truck there every minute.

The holidaymakers’ image of environmentally sustainable accommodation has tended to encompass luxurious eco-lodges — those little cards that encourage reusing of towels and bedding in hotel rooms and not much in between.

 

COMMITMENT

If the hotel industry is correctly managed in protected areas, it can become an effective instrument and an economic resource towards conservation.

Stopping plastics from getting into the oceans will require a huge change in consumer behaviour and product design.

This should be fuelled by a global commitment by governments and business to phase out non-essential single-use plastics, particularly for packaging, and ease recycling of the remaining plastic waste.

Responsible tourism should aim at exploring what businesses, governments and individual holidaymakers can do to minimise the negative impacts of tourism while maximising the positives.


Mr Noorani is the managing director and founder of PrideInn Group of Hotels. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.