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#Beatplasticpollution

In the selection of “word of the year” for 2018, I would certainly put forward “plastics.” Not because I like plastics, but because the material – or rather how to ban it – has certainly been at the center of attention this year. And it’s about time.

Having sailed from Europe to Australia 10 years ago, I can confirm plastic is a huge problem – it floats in our oceans, pollutes the windward side of pristine islands, fills the waterways of verdant islands like Bali and eventually ends up in our food chain, and so in all of us.

The first pledge came at the World Economic Forum, when some of the world’s largest companies agreed to ban nonrecyclable PET packaging in the coming years – think of giants like Walmart, Coca-Cola, Unilever, L’Oreal, Mars, etc.

Then the call continued on Earth Day, April 22, and today it culminates in the United Nation’s World Environment Day celebrations with India hosting the global drive to “beat plastic pollution.”

At Radisson Hotel Group, since the beginning of April, we have started to ban plastic straws in our hotels with #thelaststraw. Cocktails and drinks are offered to our guests without straws and with a little explanation on why we are getting involved. Guests are fantastically supportive; and only about 10% ask for an alternative paper or bamboo straw. By doing so we will keep minimum 7 million straws each year out of our waste-streams and waterways!

Some of our hotels combine the plastic ban with support for related conservation projects. Radisson Group hotels in Cape Town, South Africa, are volunteering with and donating to the Two Oceans Aquarium turtle rescue, rehab and release program.

In meetings and events, we are going for zero single-use plastics by 2020. This involves smart choices of bottled water, pencils instead of pens and natural food and drink wrappings.

In mature markets, we have all the elements in place today. In emerging markets, we are working on finding the best solutions, especially for bottled water. We have already proven it can be done and had zero plastics on our Radisson Hotel Group booth at ITB, ATM and IMEX and on all our major company-internal conferences.

On an international scale, the European Union has been talking about banning single-use plastic bags. Now there’s a positive project. My call to European lawmakers is: Go ahead, ban the bags and make it World Environment Day every day.

Want to get involved? Here are some ways to ban plastic at home and at work, including single-use plastic.

Sign the ER petition to ban plastic bags. 

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