IUCN is bringing together local and regional stakeholders to encourage national action to address plastic pollution based on an integrated lifecycle approach
As promising actions are already being undertaken all over the globe, IUCN is facilitating dialogue and maximizing cross-fertilization and collaboration by sharing best practices and lessons learned in tackling plastic pollution. Inclusive and varied coalitions that promote innovative cooperation and concrete action on the ground are also being encouraged through the implementation of replicable Public-Private Partnerships.
In Vietnam, IUCN collaborated this year with Ly Son MPA, Live & Learn, Humane Society International (HSI) and other government agencies on the “Save a Bottle, Shape our Future” initiative to reduce tourists’ use of plastic bottle on Ly Son Island as a part of the project “Support for community-based marine turtle nesting beach conservation and bycatch reduction in Viet Nam”, financed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.
Located off the coast of south central Vietnam, Ly Son is a major tourist attraction but the lack of available landfills and waste management has contributed to alarming levels of pollution. Growing numbers of residential houses, industries, and tourists are making the problem worse.
A training course on turtle conservation and the reuse and recycling of plastic waste was delivered to 40 secondary school students and a communications festival was held for 400 local communities on the reuse and recycling of plastic waste. The campaign also involved local businesses having designated water refill stations for tourists via the ‘Refill not Landfill’ initiative which has also found popularity in other countries in the region. Tourists were able to bring their reusable bottles to the stations and refill them. In return for this commitment, information about participating businesses is posted on the website and they receive high-quality reusable bottles which can be sold to visitors to compensate for the cost of buying the drinking water.
Hotels provide two single-use plastic bottles of water per room to meet the requirements for a 3-star hotel, which makes them a key player in waste management policy. Agreements were successfully reached with 11 hotels, including Muong Thanh, the largest hotel in Ly Son.
The pilot programme is running until September 2018. Each month, the team monitors the used water bottles. In the first month, 5,510 500-ml plastic bottles that would have been thrown into the ocean or landfills were saved.
Even if tourist behaviour cannot be changed overnight, the results achieved so far are promising. While two hotels have withdrawn, because tourists were misusing the drinking water, some businesses have voluntarily adapted the initiative, moving from providing free water to tea, an added-value drink also with reduced plastic waste.
This campaign confirms the need to raise awareness and take action against plastic pollution by engaging with tourists and businesses directly. Future efforts should be focused on a bottom-up approach, which works more closely with hotels and tourists, and integrates their needs, views and experience into any campaign design.
Based on lessons learned from this initial scheme and through MARPLASTICCS, IUCN will continue to implement replicable local projects that further demonstrate tangible action toward circular economy.