Guiding Principle 9: Close the loop on resources. When post-pandemic safety allows, turn away from the use of disposable plastics by tourism businesses, and transition to circular resource use.
The issue of single-use plastics is a worldwide problem, but it is particularly bad across the Mediterranean. Over 95% of beach and sea waste in the Med and 80% of rubbish on Cyprus beaches is plastic. However, the award-winning initiative ‘Keep Sand and Sea Plastic Free in Cyprus’ shows just how much impact the tourism sector can have on resource use when collaborating. The project involves tourism businesses, tourists, and residents across Ayia Napa, Protaras, and the wider Famagusta region. Local authorities are also involved to help embed longer-term change.
‘Keep Sand and Sea Plastic Free in Cyprus’ aims to tackle the consumption of single-use plastic specifically within the tourism sector. Work involves embedding more sustainable practices within the tourism sector including providing resources and webinars, raising awareness with residents, schoolchildren, and tourists to encourage behaviour change through communications, beach cleans, school workshops, and launching two plastic-free beaches with free water refill stations, signs, and cigarette collection points.
To date (the project runs until 2025), 45 hotels, 44 restaurants and 11 other partners including local schools, the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents, and the Cyprus Bartenders Association have signed up. Outcomes include reduction of plastic straw use by 98%, plastic cups by 61%, and plastic takeaway boxes by 77%, despite the challenge of COVID. It has also incentivised some businesses to take a step further and aim to become completely plastic-free. For example, Atlantica Sancta Napa Hotel, is now 96% plastic free and Kalifi Bar has removed all single-use plastic items and replaced them with eco-friendly products.