Slovenia – a forerunner in zero waste tourism

 Friday, March 6, 2020 


Countries across Central and Southeast Europe are working to improve their tourism offerings since visitor numbers are going up year-by-year. But with growth in tourism comes a growth in waste, including heaps of single-use packaging, and this is a problem that activists and a growing number of private sector companies in Slovenia are trying to address.


Slovenia boasts of beautiful, pristine countryside, and the Slovenian Tourist Board has made sustainability and green tourism a priority of its offering.


With growing visitor numbers, the volume of waste they generate also continues to grow.
Helena Nieboer of Slovenian non-profit Ecologists without Borders said, “The biggest sources of waste [in the tourism industry] are food and plastic. Plastic — mostly single-use packaging of food (e.g. at breakfast), plastic bottles and single-use toiletries; food — it is estimated that up to 60% of all waste in a hotel comes from their restaurants.”


Globally, the scale of plastic waste produced by major hotels is shocking. An article published by an NGO points out that not only do hotels create waste in the form of single-use plastic packaging, but tourists use more water and electricity, creating more waste when traveling regularly.


On the demand side, said Nieboer, “More and more tourists search for hotels with a different experience. They value the zero waste philosophy and the protection of our healthy and green environment. Therefore hotels with zero waste certificates and labels attract a different kind of guest.”


“Slovenia is one of the cleanest and most environment-friendly countries in the world. It is the only country with a zero-waste capital where green tourism is also on the rise.


Slovenia’s goal is to be a green country ensuring its people’s health, safety and sustainability,” said the NGO’s website.


Ljubljana currently recycles 68% of its waste, up from 29.3% in 2008, thus becoming the top European city in terms of the percentage of waste recycled.


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