Increasingly cities, states and tourism destinations are banning the sale and use of plastic bags; Los Angeles banned the sale of plastic bottles, France after banning plastic bags in supermarkets is now also outlawing the use of reusable cups, plates, etc. Koh Tao the island famous for divers, Thailand, has recently organized free drinking water refill stations to reduce the use of plastic bottles. It is becoming a worldwide trend and many countries, cities, from Africa to Europe are taking measures. In Asia aside Bali, so far not much is being done, whereas Vietnam, Thailand, India and China are amongst the worst world plastic polluters!
Plastic waste has become a real plague for soils, seas, rivers, marine life, and humans at the end of the food chain.
Tourism is adding up significantly to the huge volume of plastic waste destinations have to deal with, in Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar there is no recycling facilities. Even in places where recycling is possible only a small share is actually recycled; It is estimated that only 14 % of all plastic bottles worldwide are recycled.
In order to tackle this plague, EXO Travel under EXO Foundation guidance is progressively introducing refillable bottles along its tours.
As a supporter of responsible tourism, EXO Travel is lobbying suppliers such as hotels, restaurants, tourist sites, and car companies to work towards reducing plastic waste even further in the future. The initiative was originally pioneered on biking tours last year and is now being rolled out in Cambodia with plans to soon implement in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Since October 1st 2016, we are testing with regular travelers in Cambodia the provision of free refillable bottles to selected clients such as Diamir, Audley or Trailfinders who readily accepted to be part of the solution and we will soon extend to Vietnam, Laos & Thailand.
EXO Travel tour guides are being trained and promoted Green Ambassadors and will be able to answer all questions from travelers as well as facilitate the refill.
Whereas a logistic challenge in some destinations, such as Vietnam, where it is not always easy to convince hotels and restaurants to provide water stations where travelers can refill, we are confident this initiative which is an excellent move will soon be replicated by other tour companies committed to sustainability, thus convincing more outlet to join.
FACTS on plastic bottles
· 4 the average number of plastic bottles a traveler is drinking per day
· 120 MILLION Plastic bottles: the estimated number of plastic bottles consumed by travelers in 2014 in Cambodia.
· 14%: the number of plastic bottles recycled compared to plastic bottles consumed worldwide.
· 100 to 1000 years is the time needed for a plastic bottle to degrade into small micro particles polluting the food chain.
· A German research on water plastic bottles over the world revealed that a plastic bottle especially when exposed to strong heat can release as many as 25,000 chemicals! Some being dangerous human carcinogen and hormone disruptors such as maleate and fumarates, or Bisphenol A.