Case Study

Keeping Sand and Sea Plastic-free in Cyprus

    This TUI Care Foundation initiative, delivered in partnership with the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI), brought together tourists, tourism businesses and residents across Ayia Napa, Protaras and the wider Famagusta region of Cyprus to cut consumption of single-use plastic.

    Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

    Plastics make up 95% of sea and beach waste across the Mediterranean, and the Mediterranean Sea has one of the highest levels of plastic pollution in the world, exacerbated by water circulation patterns.

    This area of Cyprus is well-known for its beautiful beaches, an important resource for both tourism and local wildlife. However 80% of rubbish collected on Cyprus beaches is plastic waste.

    We worked with the tourism sector to reduce demand for and consumption of single-use plastics – such as plastic straws, cups, cutlery and hotel toiletries – through changing procurement practices. The project also raised awareness of the issue with residents, school children and tourists in order to reduce demand. Collaboration with regional authorities helped to embed longer-lasting change.

    Keep Our Sand and Sea Plastic Free was delivered in the popular resorts of Ayia Napa and Protaras. The project has now been extended, and will run for a further three years (to 2025) with delivery spearheaded by the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI).

    What did we do?

    Project activities fell into three main categories:

    Raising awareness and encouraging behaviour change

    • A leaflet to raise awareness of the problem of plastic pollution was sent to 20,000 local residents
    • Signage, information boards and a large billboard at a busy road intersection to raise visibility of the project
    • Beach and underwater cleans
    • A project animation in Greek and English – aimed at residents, school children and tourists alike. This has been shown at events as well as in hotel lobbies and guestrooms, and will also now be shown in both of Cyprus’ international airports
    • Launch of two plastic free beaches with smoking areas with collection boxes for cigarette butts as well as refill stations providing free cold, filtered water to avoid the need for visitors to the beach to use disposable plastic bottles. We estimate that in the first nine months of use, the water station saved around 4,400 plastic bottles
    • Schools programme

    Embedding more sustainable practices within the tourism sector

    • We signed up 45 hotels, 44 restaurants and 11 other partners (including local schools, the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents and the Cyprus Bartenders Association 
    • Resources, guidelines and toolkit for plastic reduction were shared with hotels
    • Webinars and online workshops tailored to different sectors
    • 100 plaques were also provided to restaurants and bars, with QR codes linking to information about the project
    Liquid Cafe

    Building momentum and celebrating success

    • Project website (sandseaplasticfree.org) including news, events and resources 
    • Social media pages (Facebook and Instagram), regularly updated 
    • Regular project newsletters sent to stakeholders 
    • Consistent coverage in local and national media and in some international outlets

    Project Outcomes

    Reduced volumes of single-use plastic procured and used by tourism businesses

    Between 2019 and 2021, the hotels and restaurants involved in the project have made reductions in relation to specific single use plastic items as follows:

    Plastic straws -98.00% 
    Plastic cups -60.95% 
    Plastic water bottles -33.60% 
    Plastic drink stirrers -92.18% 
    Single portion plastic packaging -36.82% 
    Bin liners in bathrooms and bedrooms -27.86% 
    Plastic drink coasters -81.16% 
    Plastic bags -43.40% 
    Plastic take-away boxes -77.18% 
    Plastic cutlery -71.10% 
    Single-use garden plastic waste bags -58.45% 
    Single-use plastic plates -66.64% 
    Plastic bowls -48.70% 
    Cocktail decorations -96.02% 
    Cleaning products (small bottles) -18.77% 
    Plastic clothes hangers -48.13% 
    Laundry bags in room -42.95% 
    Plastic Pens -38.32% 
    Shower caps -22.85% 
    Plastic packaging e.g. around spa items 
    -32.73% 
    Plastic ice cream spoons -84.54% 
    Plastic face masks -1.39% 
    Hygiene ribbons around toilet -14.81% 
    Plastic toothbrush -28.39% 
    Plastic key cards -5.76% 

     

    A few items increased in use – presumably as a result of precautions / regulations relating to COVID-19: namely single snacks wrapped in plastic (19.23%); individual plastic condiment sachets (22.07%) and plastic gloves (30.3%). 

    Positive changes in practice to reduce single-use plastics waste 

    96% of signed-up businesses have made at least one positive change or reduction in the period 2019-2021 and many have made multiple changes and reductions. More than 300 people in key positions (all over the island) were reached and most of them started implementing our suggestions for the reduction of single use plastic items. The project’s toolkits have also been well used.

    Raising awareness among tourists and locals

    We estimate that at least 500,000 residents and tourists have been reached through the variety of project activities implemented, including the awareness-raising leaflet, information and publicity events, billboard, public signage, art installations, plastic free beaches, photo exhibition touring the island and media activities. Showing of the project animation in the two international airports in Cyprus will extend this reach significantly.  

    Educational programme reaches more than a third of the school population

    Schools presentations, including showing the animation, have now reached 2186 students, exceeding the project target. The Ministry of Education has now included the project animation on its website, making it available to all schools in Cyprus to use themselves. 

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    Core stakeholders have been key to the success of the project, and we are sure they will continue to champion it as it goes into the next phase. We are very grateful to the Deputy Ministry of Tourism; the Deputy Ministry of Shipping; the Ministry of Education; the Department of the Environment; the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research; the Department of Forestry; the UK High Commissioner to Cyprus; the mayors of the municipalities of Paralimni, Ayia Napa, Deryneia and Sotira; high schools and colleges; tourism –related organisations such as PASYXE, PASYDIXE, ACTA, TEBEA, ETAP, the Cyprus Housekeepers Association, the Cyprus Bar Tenders Association, Vassiliko Cement Works, Chris Yianni Foundation, Kapparis Waterfun Kalifi, Karma Developers as well as numerous businesses and others.

    Case Studies - tourism businesses

    Atlantica Sancta Napa Hotel

    Here are examples of what two participating businesses have achieved through the project:

    Atlantica Sancta Napa hotel

    • The aim of the hotel’s management is to be a plastic free hotel
    • Dispensers are provided for toiletries;
    • Upon arrival reusable bottles for water are offered free to all children and offered for sale to all adults
    • Drinks are served without straws, with paper straws provided only on request
    • Glass bottles are used for water
    • Trolleys are used for garden waste

    Kalifi Bar has…

    • Removed all single use plastics items and replaced with eco-friendly products
    • Begun to sell flasks for water, so customers can buy these flasks and use them at the fillable water station based on the nearest beach
    • Made a commitment to using no plastics, which is included in writing on its menus, stating that it is committed to being the first plastic-free restaurant
    • Supported the creation of the second Plastic Free Beach next to the restaurant

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