How does plastic waste influence the tourism industry?


Last month the plastic pact was concluded by the central government and around 70 parties. Despite the fact that many parties, including Greenpeace and the Plastic Soup Foundation, did not agree with the low ambitions of the Pact, this action indicates that the need to reduce our (plastic) waste is now also recognised within the politic arena.

The role of tourism in relation to (plastic) waste is twofold

Tourists are partly responsible for the ever-growing mountain of waste, but on the other hand, they can be seen as ‘victims’ because plastic has an impact on the quality of a large diversity of destinations. For example, visitors to Mount Everest, especially on the Chinese side, produce a lot of waste, as the height makes it difficult to dispose of waste. Ultimately China has recently decided to close off part of the mountain for visitors.

Plastic waste flows make tourism destinations less attractive

In Bali, plastic waste flows - caused by residents and visitors - make the island less and less attractive. In the ‘plastic season’, tens of thousands of kilos of (plastic) waste wash up along the southern beaches of Bali. However, sunbathing or swimming between plastic waste does not meet the expectations that tourists have of such island destinations.

The growing amount of waste

An average of 370 pieces of waste per 100 meters are found on the North Sea beach, 93% of which is plastic. In addition to nets, ropes and fish fluff, small pieces of plastic, plastic caps, candy wraps, crisp and snack packaging are among the top 5 of most found items. In total, the Stichting strandexploitatie Veere collects 347 tonnes of waste from the 28-km beach every year.

CELTH is currently working on this mountain of waste in various ways

HZ, together with various parties, including RWS, IVN and government bodies, works on a Clean Scheldt. Students of Data Science are programming cameras to detect plastic waste. CELTH partners Breda University of Applied Sciences and NHL Stenden have also investigated the possibilities for waste-free events. CELTH is currently exploring the possibilities for research into and solutions to the plastic waste problem, both with partners in the Netherlands and abroad.