The East African arm of integrated tourism group Tourvest’s Accommodation and Activities has vowed to purge its premises of all disposable plastic products.

Tourvest East Africa operates the Lemala Luxury Collection comprising Kuria Hills Lodge in the Serengeti National Park, Mpingo Ridge in the Tarangire National Park, Lemala Kili Villas in Arusha and the Lemala seasonal camps in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.  It also operates the Wildwaters Lodge and the Adrift river rafting company in the Ugandan Nile River.

Leanne Haigh, chief executive of Tourvest East Africa, says the company has all but eliminated the use of disposable plastic products at its properties, electing instead to use banana-weaved boxes for packed picnic lunches and aluminium canisters instead of plastic water bottles.

Scientists estimate that the world has created over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste since 1950 with almost half of that being produced in the last 13 years.  Tanzania produces around 3 800 tonnes of waste every day with close to 40% of that comprising plastic materials.

“Plastic can take from 10 to 1 000 years to decompose and until they do they can kill livestock and game on the mainland while slowly finding their way in the country’s rivers, lakes and coast.  Here they can do untold damage to eco systems, strangling turtles and sea birds, clogging the gills of fish and filling the stomachs of whales and dolphins until they starve to death.  The impact of plastic pollution on the stocks of Nile perch and tilapia are already manifest,” she says.

Haigh says one of the cornerstones of the company’s approach to corporate social responsibility and sustainability is the belief that it should be a steward of the environment.  “It is for this reason that we have been an active campaigner for the #throttle_bottle and #banthebottle social media drive to create awareness around plastic pollution since June 2017 and we are pleased to say that a year later we are almost 100% plastic free at all our operations,” she says.

Where disposal plastic items still find their way to Tourvest East Africa’s properties, says Haigh, these are collected and sent to recycling companies where they are repurposed to create school desks for the nearby Jangwanii School in Karatu.