Reducing the use and promoting the environmentally sound management of single-use plastics in the tourism sector offers a great opportunity to tackle plastic pollution at the source. Similarly, addressing problematic plastics throughout tourism value chains can also drive a shift towards innovative and circular business models. In this context, this paper summarizes critical observations and lessons learned from a pilot project on plastic waste management being implemented in Galle City by the IGES Centre Collaborating with UNEP on Environmental Technologies (CCET), the Ministry of Environment, Sri Lanka, the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat) and HELP-O, a local non-governmental organization (NGO).
In cooperation with the Hotels Association of Galle, the project has sought to examine the current status of plastic consumption in selected hotels across the city with a key focus on small and medium establishments located in the Galle Fort area. Activities have also included awareness-raising with hotel staff and guests to avoid single-use plastic products, assisting selected hotels to develop plastic reduction action plans to better contribute to domestic solutions to plastic pollution, working with governments and suppliers to produce more sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic products, as well as outlining recommendations to link project interventions with national initiatives. This model project is being implemented as part of an umbrella project entitled “Marine litter and microplastics: promoting the environmentally sound management of plastic waste and achieving the prevention and minimization of the generation of plastic waste’ (BRS-Norad-1), which is being implemented in Sri Lanka and Ghana, and also features global activities. The BRS-Norad-1 project is facilitated by the BRS Secretariat and financed by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) with additional funding provided by the Government of the Netherlands.