Each year, people across the globe produce billions of tons of waste. It is estimated that 2.01 billion tons of solid waste was produced in 2016. Accordingly, the World Bank predicts that this number could rise to 3.4 billion tons by 2050.
The tourism industry is deeply interlinked with and dependent on multiple key resource flows, asset and commodity value chains in society. It’s more, travel and tourism actors can act as powerful enablers of circularity and benefit from shared circular creation and capture within relevant value chains.
In order to build back better, a new thinking, a new framing of tourism activities is needed. All tourism sectors should question the purpose of their operations and the environmental, social, and economic impacts of their business models.
Waste problem in Chile
In Chile, more than 40% of all the generated waste ends up in landfills without a minimum of sanitary requirements. This means that the groundwater and the river streams are affected directly, as well as the Pacific Ocean.
In the travel industry, this issue has affected us on a daily basis. Since 2003, Amity Tours organizes travel adventures in wilderness and protected areas, where responsible practices are fundamental. Since the beginning of our operations, sustainability has always been an important aspect of our travel experiences. As of today, it has become a number one priority for us.
Zero Waste Challenge (from 2019): on our way to become the first zero waste tour operator in Chile
In light of this both global and local issue, and as the leading tour operator in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District, we couldn’t turn a blind eye on the negative impact we produced with the generated waste on our trips. So, we decided to involve our business model in this global fight by starting a new challenge.
First, we had to evaluate the critical points where we generate waste. We quickly realized that most of our waste issue came from our picnic tables and our grosery shopping list. Thus, we implemented the 3R concept with the following solutions:
In order to prevent the production of waste, we partnered up with local and organic food suppliers. Buying in bulk avoids the use of disposable plastics. Plus, it also fuels the local economy.
We donate all of the remaining reusable water bottles after each operations’ season. In 2019, we donated approximately 450 bottles to local sport clubs. Moreover, we highly encourage our clients to bring their own water bottles.
At our main office we installed a recycling point. We separate plastic, cans, glass, paper/cardboard, and of course, all the organic waste generated at our office. Our chicken at the headquarter are happy about every food waste.
During the trips our guides and drivers set up a dismountable recycling point where clients and staff can dispose the residues. These will be collected at the hotels visiting during the trip. In addition, we separate and collect the organic waste to be transformed into compost. This compost will be used for our vegetables garden located at Amity Headquarters.
Moreover, we encourage our local partners to join the Zero Waste Challenge. Sustainable practices and waste management are important points when choosing both accommodation and food suppliers. For this, we maintain a close relationship with AWA hotel in Puerto Varas which has implemented sustainable measures in their facilities.
2021: Amity becomes part of the Fundación Basura Chile
Fundación Basura is a non-profit, non-governmental, social and environmental building-awareness organization with a legal personality under private law. Their objective is to recover the value housed in objects that we commonly call waste through the collection and re-insertion in new operating cycles by implementing a Zero Waste lifestyle in Chile.
In other words, Fundación Basura seeks to generate a social and environmental awareness in Chile around implementing a zero-waste lifestyle. Thus, avoiding the general waste to end in illegal landfills and the further consequent impacts on both the environment and people’s quality of life. Hence, this community trains active change agents, which hopefully will enable the country to move towards economic, social and environmentally sustainable development, generating interdisciplinary, intercultural and intergenerational projects and programs.
When looking for new sustainable practices to implement in our tour operation, we came across this community and applied to join it. In order to do so, we followed training classes about the zero-waste lifestyle.
As a result, we can happily say that we are officially part of the future change by being member of Fundación Basura Chile since 2021. They choose us as the case of success for their online course Zero Waste At Outdoor Activities.
2021: Tourism Declares Climate Emergency (so does Amity Tours)
While we were investigating about how to become a Zero Waste Company, a whole new world opened up. Indeed, we learned about sustainable practices for tour operators and also found great local alternatives for our previous waste problems.
During these researches, we stumbled over the Tourism Declares Climate Emergency website. This global community has declared a climate emergency and the different actors came together to plan a better future for tourism.
As a result, we immediately declared as Amity Tours by committing to act in order to cut our global emissions in half over the next decade. Here’s our first Climate Action Plan.
Being part of the Tourism Declares Community means sharing ideas, challenges and solutions, so that together we can create a new, regenerative tourism industry built on the principles of climate justice.
2022: Offsetting our carbon footprint with a local tree planting
In Amity, we are conscious of the environmental impacts as a business. Consequently, we need to reduce our own carbon footprint and offset our unavoidable emissions to support the transition to a low-carbon sustainable future. Indeed, carbon offsetting alone won’t fix the climate crisis. Despite that, we truly believe that each step towards a climate positive society is worth any effort.
We want to make changes, share progresses and solutions. So, shortly after starting our Zero Waste Challenge in 2019, we contacted a local partner, Rutas Ancestrales Araucarias in order to discuss a solution about offsetting our carbon emissions on a local basis. For many years, we have been working together with the award-winning community based project by connecting our international visitors from all over the world with the local culture.
Afterwards, we shared with them our future vision regarding sustainability. We got to know about a reforestation project in Currarehue, located just a few kilometers away from our headquarters. After our first meeting, we invited forestry engineers to join the project. They made a great case study of the local trees and their capacity of carbon capture. That is who a whole new project was born: Wiñolfe Anumka (travelling trees in the Mapuche language), a tree planting project with local families.
Today, we are very happy to announce that our team will be executing the first reforestation of 220 native trees. In July 2022, we will be planting 11 tree cores that include 20 trees in each of them. Consequently, it represents 50 tons of CO2 carbon capture for the estimated 2019 carbon footprint, in addition to the flight emissions for the upcoming ATTA Summit event in Switzerland.
Furthermore, we are working on the carbon footprint calculation 2021 and the updated Climate Emergency Plan. We will keep you up to date!