Story | 23 Jan, 2021

Plastic Waste Free Islands project launches zero plastic waste toolkits for the tourism sector in Small Island Developing States

As part of IUCN’s Plastic Waste Free Islands project which promotes circular economy actions that demonstrate effective, quantifiable solutions to addressing plastic leakage from Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Searious Business is launching three zero plastic waste toolkits designed for hospitality, tour and cruise companies working in SIDS. These toolkits provide practical guidance on how to prevent plastic waste in the tourism sector, an industry vital to all SIDS in these regions and around the world. The toolkits may also play a part in aiding the drive for a green economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Photo: Joao Sousa, IUCN

With strong support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the Plastic Waste Free Islands project has been developing practical solutions to plastic leakage in six participating islands in Oceania and the Caribbean regions: Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Grenada.

The most recent outcome of the project is Plastic Waste Free Tourism toolkits, developed from in-depth consultation with the tourism industry in the two regions. The toolkits address island stakeholders’ desire to see the costs and benefits of changing to more sustainable alternatives.

Each toolkit is targeted at different stakeholders in the tourism sector:

  • Hotels
  • Cruise Ships
  • Tour Operators and Destination Managers

In each kit, relevant stakeholders can find best practices from around the world, concrete suggestions for implementing change, and information about return on investment. The toolkits identify problem areas, and provide tips and tricks for hygienic and convenient zero plastic waste options.

The new toolkits provide clear and practical guidance for tour operators and destination managers on how to reduce waste. Uniquely, they demonstrate tangible and persuasive returns on investment - including values of cost savings and reduced carbon emissions associated with implementing specific more sustainable solutions.” 

Dr Anna Spenceley, GSTC Director; Independent Panel Member, Travalyst; Chair, 

IUCN WPCA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group

The tools are a great initiative and will be very useful for tourism businesses as it not only looks at the hygiene and safety but also reducing single use plastic. It will also be very beneficial as it also provides cost cutting alternatives/options which hotels can consider.” 

Robert Ah Sam, Planning & Development Manager - Samoa Tourism Authority

To ensure relevance and effectiveness of the tools, the project team invites interested parties to test the toolkits in practice and actively share learnings, so we can keep on improving the tools. The team will also be available for supporting interested parties to tailor the tools, or help integrate them into existing sustainability programmes and policies.  

Interested parties can request a free toolkit from

About Plastic Waste Free Islands

Over 14 million tonnes of plastic waste enter our oceans every year making plastic pollution one of the major challenges of our time. Islands are particularly vulnerable to the effects of plastic pollution having to deal with plastic debris that washes ashore from other places as well as plastic waste they generate themselves. In 2019, with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), IUCN launched the Plastic Waste Free Islands (PWFI) project, as part of its global Close the Plastic Tap Programme. In collaboration with national governments and the private sector, Plastic Waste Free Islands seeks to provide practical solutions that add value to plastic waste based on local knowledge, best practices and the understanding of volumes and quality of plastic waste available. The planned solutions focus on addressing plastic waste at the source whilst unlocking financial opportunities for the tourism, fisheries and waste management sectors in SIDS of the Caribbean and Oceania. Nine solution concepts have been identified, including waste to product, net-to-net and bottle-to-bottle recycling.

Island working groups have been established to guide the development of prototypes and implement pilots in their local setting. These groups are collectively working towards the shared ambition: healthy seas, healthy communities and happy tourists.

The long-term vision is to create a Blueprint for Plastic Waste Free Islands so that all solutions can be scaled up and rolled out to other islands across the globe. The Blueprint will outline how to implement lasting change in three sectors: tourism, fisheries and waste management. To find out more about the Plastic Waste Free Islands Project, visit the website.

For more information on Plastic Waste Free Islands, please contact

For further details on the toolkits, please contact Rosemarie Wuite: