On World Environment Day 2018, numerous organisations announced new plans and actions to address plastic related issues such as litter, pollution and harm to wildlife. Mallika Naguran takes a look at the environmental movements and pledges made by A Plastic Planet, The Travel Corporation and The Millenium Hotels in this report.
SINGAPORE, 5 June 2018. The 5th of June has been an important date for many companies and organisations – this year’s World Environment Day called for serious action against plastics foremost.
A unique coalition of various agencies, civic organisations, non-governmental organisations, media and brands through A Plastic Planet. This international campaign group took to social media for rallying against plastic-packaged products. They urged people to take a photo of the product that they were giving up for One Plastic Free Day and share it on social media, saying why they have been inspired to #PassOnPlastic.
One Plastic Free Day was a call for action to people from around the world to avoid plastic-packaged food and drink products for 24 hours.
Coinciding with World Environment Day, One Plastic Free Day backed by celebrities including adventurer Ben Fogle and Hollywood actress Bonnie Wright also prompted international companies to pledge to reduce their plastic footprint.
In February this year A Plastic Planet launched the world’s first Plastic Free Aisle in an Amsterdam branch of Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza.
Earlier this month the group announced that UK supermarket giant Iceland is to become the first UK retailer to adopt A Plastic Planet’s Plastic Free Trust Mark across its range of own brand products, joining Ekoplaza, which is rolling out the Plastic Free Trust Mark throughout its 74 stores.
More brands and supermarkets are expected to introduce the Trust Mark on their plastic-free products later this year.
One Plastic Free Day’s supporting partners from across Europe, Asia and the Americas include Sky Ocean Rescue, Live Nation, Vice Media, Iceland Foods, Ekoplaza, Bluewater, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Mediacom, One Young World, Volvo Ocean Race, TimeOut, Spotify, Sky News, Sky Sports, Jack Johnson, Street Wisdom, Trash Hero World, Indonesian Waste Platform, Good Market, Jakarta Post, EcoCentric, Bye Bye Plastic Bags, Uplift, Antana, Avani Eco, Roar Media, and CECRPA (Chinese Ecological Civilization Research & Promotion Association).
A Plastic Planet Co-Founder Sian Sutherland said: “One Plastic Free Day will touch the lives of millions of people around the world. Across every continent, people are waking up to the fact that plastic has absolutely no place in food and drink. Where is the logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic?
“Our addiction to plastic is this generation’s smoking. For years, we were blissfully unaware of the terrible damage done by throwaway packaging to our oceans, our soil and the health of future generations. Now we know the truth.
“One Plastic Free Day is all about uniting the world to turn off the plastic tap. It’s just one day to think twice before reaching for that plastic-wrapped food and drink product. None of us are plastic saints; just do what you can.”
Fiona Morgan, Head of Inspiring Action, Sky Ocean Rescue, said: “The world's first One Plastic Free Day represents a big moment in the fight to stop our oceans from drowning in plastic and spreading the word. We all aim to inspire people to make simple everyday changes to eradicate single-use plastic as the problem can be solved by working together. We're delighted to support A Plastic Planet to encourage people to #PassOnPlastic on June 5.”
Bye Bye Plastic Bags Founder Melati Wijsen said: “The beauty of One Plastic Free Day is that it is inspiring millions of young people across Asia and beyond. It’s a wonderful action that gets everyone thinking, slowly changing and suddenly it isn’t just one day but everyday in which your lifestyle becomes more plastic-free. I’ve seen what plastic waste has done to my home in Bali and I want to make sure that the world unites so that we stop plastic ruining our beautiful Earth.”
The Travel Corporation Phases Out Single-use Plastics
In its continued commitment to ensure the environment remains vibrant for generations to come, The Travel Corporation's (TTC) family of brands today announced on World Environment Day that over the next five years it will phase out all single-use plastics from its extensive selection of travel and tourism companies with its "Multi-Year Plastics Elimination Strategy".
The announcement comes as TTC, under the guidance of their not-for-profit TreadRight Foundation, officially instituted an immediate ban of more than 60 types of single-use plastic items such as straws, stir sticks, water bottles, plastic bags, and cutlery from its 40 global offices across its exceptional portfolio of brands.
The single-use plastic ban at TTC offices is the first step in the group's journey to the complete elimination of single-use plastics across all operations, which will also include the phasing out of single-use plastics across its Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and U by Uniworld cruise ships, all Red Carnation Hotels, and all travel experiences. It is estimated that TTC's efforts has the potential to help eliminate the use of millions of plastic water bottles annually.
The Last Straw: Millennium Hotels Take a Stand Against Single-Use Plastics
Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR) has responded to the call to beat plastic pollution and pledged it will end the use of single-use plastics across its six hotels in Singapore.
In joining the global fight against plastics, the hotel group will not only help save the environment by cutting out over 260kg of plastics per month, it will also see savings of nearly $500,000 a year that would have otherwise been spent on plastics.
The Singapore hotels – Orchard Hotel, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, M Hotel, Studio M, M Social and Copthorne King’s Hotel – will phase out the use of disposable plastics by June 2019 and opt for greener alternatives. This includes plastic straws, stirrers, plastic bags, cutlery and toiletry bottles in over 2,600 rooms.
The six properties are part of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (M&C), the largest Singapore-controlled international hotel owning and operating company.
Currently, M Social has replaced plastic straws with paper ones and are using environmentally-friendly packaging and cutlery for their ‘Order & Grab’ service. The other hotels in the Group are following suit to replace plastic straws and stirrers for room service and at their restaurants. In addition, Orchard Hotel and Studio M are also planning to use dispensers in hotel rooms for toiletries for their guests.
Mr Lee Richards, Vice President of Operations (South East Asia), MHR, said, “While the hotel industry benefits from the convenience of using plastic products, we see that it has long-lasting adverse impact on the environment. We have been committed to reducing our carbon footprint and promoting energy consumption, and we now want to further these efforts, and eliminate the use of single-use plastics in our hotels.”
Mr Richards said the upcoming initiatives are part of MHR’s sustainability efforts, where guests also play a role. For example, the group is planning to roll out green meeting packages, where water jugs are provided in place of plastic water bottles, and notepads are made from recycled paper. Additionally, guests can help in conserving water and energy, by opting not to have towels and linens changed everyday.