Single-use Plastics and the Role of Zoos and Aquariums

Since the 1950s, the production of plastic has outpaced that of almost every other material. Single-use plastics are used only once before they are thrown away into landfill or recycled (although many of them are not recyclable or are difficult to recycle). Plastic waste causes a wide range of problems when it leaks into the environment. Plastic bags have been found blocking the airways and stomachs of many terrestrial and aquatic animal species. Plastic is often ingested by turtles, marine birds and marine mammals who mistake it for food.

The United Nations Environment Programme views the use of single-use plastics as one of the biggest environmental scourges of our time, and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums has decided to act.

tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year

In October 2017, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). One of the goals of that memorandum is a commitment from both organisations to tackle marine plastic pollution. As a starting point WAZA is encouraging all its member zoos and aquariums to join these efforts.

Zoos and aquariums are respected and trusted voices for conservation and have a critical role to play in the conservation of biodiversity and wildlife, both in the field and within their own facilities. We strive to educate people on the need to protect the ecosystems upon which wildlife depends. The zoo and aquarium community must actively champion the appropriate use of single-use plastic to ensure that it does not have a detrimental impact on the environment, which is why WAZA created the Short Guide: How to Reduce Single-use Plastic in Your Zoo or Aquarium.

A Short Guide – How to Reduce Single-use Plastic at Your Zoo or Aquarium

This short guide was compiled by the WAZA Task Force on Single-Use Plastic to help your zoo and/or aquarium implement the policies and changes needed to reduce the use of single-use plastic. Regardless of the location of your zoo and/or aquarium or the size of your budget, this guide contains simple steps to help you start changing the way your organisation thinks about, offers and uses some of the most common single-use plastic items.

Download the short guide and join other WAZA Members in this journey!

Watch a webinar about the short guide and find out more about how WAZA members have implemented the guide in their institutions. 

A Short Guide: How to Reduce Single-use Plastic at Your Zoo or Aquarium

Published in 2020

Click on the link below to download a copy of WAZA Plastics Guide. 

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.

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