05/06/2014 07:10 BST | Updated 03/08/2014 06:59 BST

Uniting an Industry to Eliminate Plastic Bottles

I was very pleased to learn that the city of San Francisco has introduced an ordinance to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on city-owned property. Although it still has to be approved by the mayor, this is a bold statement by the city and a huge step in the right direction. Single-use and single-serving plastic water bottles cause huge environmental problems and are also unhealthy. In the USA alone, some 50 billion plastic water bottles are used each year with 77% ending up in landfill. Recycling makes a profound difference but wouldn't it be better if we could eliminate plastic in the first place?

I've been an advocate of banning plastic bottles for a long time. In October 2008, we banned imported bottled water at the Soneva resorts and took the decision to bottle our own drinking water in reusable glass bottles.

As a result, 750,000 plastic bottles have been deferred from landfill and we've completely eliminated the carbon emission from the transportation of bottled water. Our water as a whole is healthier, without the carcinogen cross-contamination from plastic bottles, and overall feedback has been very positive.

At Soneva we hold an annual SLOW LIFE Symposium, which I have touched on previously, bringing together great minds in sustainability to discuss key issues such as this. A couple of years ago, two inspiring women, Karena Albers and Jenifer Willig, came up with WHOLE WORLD Water - an initiative which aims to unite the hospitality industry to ban plastic bottles. Their proposition is for the hospitality industry to change business practices around water that have positive environmental, social and economic benefits. Members are asked to filter and bottle their own water to sell and contribute 10% of the water revenue to the WHOLE WORLD Water Fund. The WHOLE WORLD Water Fund is a registered charity and 100% of the proceeds raised from members will be used to help people get access to safe drinking water.

In return, the members are able to improve their profit from water sales by up to 28% due to cost savings and logistical benefits. It is a win-win situation for all parties.

If the campaign is successful, it is expected to raise as much as USD 1 billion. This capital will make a significant contribution to addressing Millennium Goal 7, which is to give every human being access to safe water today and in the future. Currently 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion to basic sanitation. As a consequence every minute four children die of waterborne illnesses.

I am personally a strong supporter of the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign and constantly encourage hotel companies to become a member. Soneva has been able to help over 600,000 people get access to either safe drinking water or basic sanitation and eliminated 750,000 bottles from landfill. With a united hospitality industry we would be able to help many millions.

For more information on WHOLE WORLD Water please visit: