Why eliminating and reducing the consumption of Single Use Plastics is essential for tourist establishments across Europe and how the #SUPMedProject can assist the transition towards a more environmentally sustainable management style

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Single-Use plastics (SUP) are commonly used in the tourist industry across Europe as an easy solution to serve the clients. Although this is a common practice, the extensive and uncontrolled use of Single-Use Plastics in the tourist industry has caused many issues. According to recent research, the tourism sector is responsible for a 1/3rd monthly increase in waste generation during the summertime, costing on average €1,300 per tonne. Local municipalities can be overwhelmed by the additional waste influx, leading to uncollected waste or unsafe management practices. Thus, the hospitality industry often bears the cost of clean-up to ensure locations remain attractive for tourists.[1]


For eliminating the usage of SUP items, a relevant EU legislation is in place, such as the Directive 2019/904.

Directive 2019/904 aims to “prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, in particular the aquatic environment, and on human health, as well as to promote the transition to a circular economy with innovative and sustainable business models, products and materials, thus also contributing to the efficient functioning of the internal market”. This Directive stipulates a number of actions that must be attained by each of the Member States. Article 4 relates to SUP items for which there is currently no alternative. Instead of replacing products, the Member States are required to promote the reduction in the consumption of such products. In contrast, Article 5 relates to readily available and functional alternatives to SUP products. Member States were obliged to ban the sale/use of such products by July 2021.


For assisting tourist establishments across Europe to reduce the consumption of SUP items, the SUPMed project adopted a methodology that is tested to a pilot sample of 10 hotels in Cyrus, Greece and Malta. Unique tools were developed as part of the project such as a bespoke Decision Support Tool (DST). DST provides a platform for businesses/entities to assess the environmental impact of their current SUP product selection compared with available product alternatives. The DST does not focus solely on the natural environment, but also provides a cost analysis of the switch to alternative SUP products. At the end of the piloting period, 17 tonnes of SUP items were reduced based on the bespoke actions that the pilot sample of hotels adopted, as part of the project.


The whole methodology and what the project has achieved, are described through a Best Practice Guide. This guide is available in two version (full version and a short version) for free to tourist establishments in order to benefit from the project’s findings and deliverables, to help them reduce SUP consumption and disposal. It will help ensure that their operations are in line with the requirements outlined in the EU SUP Legislation.


The best practice guide is available via https://www.supmed.eu/en/best-practice-guide

The 10 tourist establishments of the pilot sample of the project per country are:  

  1. Cyprus:
  • GrandResort
  • Atlantica Mare Village Ayia Napa
  • Radisson Blue Hotel
  • The Royal Apollonia
  1. Greece – Crete:
  • Elounda Palm Hotel & Suites
  • Infinity Blue Boutique Hotel & Spa
  • Paralos Lifestyle Beach
  1. Malta:
  • Hilton Malta
  • 1926 Hotel & Spa
  • Mellieha Holiday Centre


The project “Reducing the Consumption and Disposal of Single-use Plastics in the Tourism Industry in Cyprus, Greece and Malta” is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation.


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"Reducing the Consumption and Disposal of Single-use Plastics in the Tourism Industry in Cyprus, Greece and Malta"
project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation.