A year on, Banyan Tree’s Maldives resorts lead in achieving plastic elimination pledge

One year ago, on Earth Day 2018, Banyan Tree embarked on a journey to reduce single use plastic to ultimately become plastic free. The hospitality and tourism industry as a whole is a major consumer of this planet’s resources, often providing one-time use products on mass scales. Whilst this presents a unique opportunity to really impact the effects of global plastic consumption, it is by no means a small task.

The challenge involves finding suitable alternatives that are both sustainable and cost-effective, but equally match up to the rigorous health and quality assurances required from the industry. Preventing plastic waste from reaching landfills or polluting the environment is another primary focus. Arguably, the greatest challenge is pioneering this movement, which although growing is still in its infancy. This requires driving action across suppliers and vendors in addition to raising awareness of the need among business stakeholders, which include its own employees, guests and members of the community.

This ambitious target has inspired the change needed to successfully eliminate 4.2 million single-use items over the past year, equating to a 26 per cent reduction in use. This is a positive first-step in the right direction, considering the magnitude of the ultimate plastic-free goal.

Banyan Tree’s properties here in the Maldives have achieved the most significant reductions across the group, with both Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru in North Male Atoll reducing their total single-use plastic usage by 75 per cent. Angsana Velavaru in Dhaalu atoll, follows with a 32 per cent reduction. Collectively, the three properties have eliminated a quarter of a million single-use plastic items, preventing them from reaching landfill or ending up in the ocean.

In the first year, three of the most common single-use plastic items produced and consumed across the world were targeted for primary elimination: plastic bottles, plastic straws and plastic bags. These are fundamental sources of global plastic pollution. Worldwide, five trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 10 million each minute, requiring 600 million barrels of oil to manufacture. Less than one per cent of this amount is recycled, with the rest ending in landfills or polluting our environments. Up to 80 per cent of ocean plastic pollution originates from land.

Given the vast expanses of blue ocean and white sand beaches and lagoons that dominate the seascape of the Maldives, it is easy to overlook the current threat that plastic pollution poses to the health of its island inhabitants and the future of the kaleidoscope of marine life found below the waves. One only needs to walk beside the ferry terminals in Male or join a community cleanup on a locally inhabited islands to experience the difficulty the country is currently facing, with regards to effective waste management. The international non-profit Parley for the Oceans are currently working on the first nationwide plastic recycling program for the Maldives, but generally speaking recycling initiatives are limited, mostly organised on small scales by local schools or councils with limited resources.

Awareness and understanding of plastic consumption and waste is constantly improving, with growing support of the need to eliminate single-use plastic and switch to sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives. Banyan Tree continues to educate its associates, guests and communities around the areas it operates, about the need to consider the five R’s of responsible consumption – Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle and Remove. This is achieved by driving events such as community awareness sessions and cleanups, guest talks on property and supporting international events such as Earth Day, World Cleanup Day and World Environment Day.

This year, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru will celebrate the Earth Day with a local island clean up in the morning of April 22 and a sunset cocktail party for the guests and associates to toast for the first year of the plastic elimination pledge.

Banyan Tree Holdings runs three resorts in the Maldives: Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and two Angsana-branded properties, Angsana Ihuru and Angsana Velavaru.

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru opened its door in 1995 and is the first international chain resort in the Maldives. With just 48 pool villas dotting around the island, privacy and relaxation can easily be attained. The resort has a restaurant, bar, PADI Gold Palm Five-Star resort dive centre and a Banyan Tree Spa. It is also home to the Banyan Tree Maldives Marine Lab, the first of its kind to be funded and built on a private resort, where guests can learn about marine conservation and partake in the many sustainability activities on offer including coral planting, reef cleaning, turtle care and daily stingray feeding sessions.

Angsana Ihuru is surrounded by one of the most vibrant and well preserved coral house reefs in the Maldives. The resort has 45 villas, a restaurant and a bar, a PADI Gold Palm Five-Star resort dive centre and an Angsana Spa.

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru are located in North Male’ Atoll, just 25 minutes away by speedboat from the airport. The two resorts are just five minutes by boat away from each other.

Velavaru or ‘Turtle Island’ is located in the pristine Dhaalu atoll, and accessible by a 40-minute seaplane flight from the main Velana International Airport. This 113-villa resort offers 79 island villas and 34 InOcean Villas, revealing spectacular views and direct access to the Indian Ocean.

Spoil your taste buds with fresh ocean picks at Angsana Velavaru’s overwater Funa restaurant, or sample international delights at Kaani. Drop in at Kuredhi bar for an exotic cocktail or two as the stars sneak into the sky. Indulge in a myriad of Asian-inspired spa treatments at Angsana Spa. With guided snorkelling safaris, get your hands wet and join in the efforts to preserve the delicate balance between man and nature. Velavaru is a famed location for turtle-nesting and has its own Marine Lab, particularly committed to protecting marine creatures like the hawksbill and green sea turtles, and coral reefs.

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