How sustainable travel documents can help to raise awareness for eco-friendly travel

How sustainable travel documents can help to raise awareness for eco-friendly travel Governments and identity industry stakeholders can act as agents of change for sustainable travel practices

Climate change represents one of the greatest global challenges of our time – and it’s worsening at an alarming rate. Urgent action must now be taken to avoid further devastating impact on our environment. Stakeholders have both a responsibility and an opportunity to act as catalysts for change, especially as travel restrictions continue to ease and travelers once again flood the market at pre-pandemic levels. Those in the identity industry as well as governments must therefore join forces and use sustainable travel documents, such as ePassports, as a symbol of change to raise awareness for eco-friendly travel.

Notably, the travel and tourism sector accounts for around 11% of global emissions. For a start, just consider the negative impact that invalid passports have on the environment. Currently, over 1 billion ePassports are in circulation worldwide. Around 100 million of these documents are produced and issued annually.

It's clear that manufacturing passports embedded with electronic chips and high-level security features can result in regrettable CO2 emissions and waste that can’t be easily recycled due to privacy concerns. At a result, when ePassports lose their validity, many typically end up in thermal recycling or landfills.

It’s a shocking fact, but if you put all the ePassports that are wasted every year side by side, they would stretch from Paris to Zurich. Weight-wise, that would be equivalent to 637,500 pieces of 8kg carry-on bags.

It is therefore crucial for the identity industry to ensure that eco-friendly business practices permeate the paper-heavy business of visa and passport processing.

Eco-friendly travelers opt for sustainable choices

Efforts to raise awareness of climate change have shifted general attitudes towards sustainability. Already, consumers around the world are making more mindful decisions when travelling. The eco-conscious traveler is increasingly becoming a reality: according to’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report, 83% of global travelers consider sustainable travel to be “vital”, while 61% said that the pandemic has made them aspire to travel more sustainably in the future.

Nevertheless, there are still significant gaps between consumers’ intentions and their actual behavior, the so-called “say-do-gap”. A lack of awareness is one of the most important roadblocks to sustainable traveler behavior, according to the World Economic Forum. The onus is therefore on governments to shine a light on the problem and motivate travelers to minimize their impact on the environment.

Governments themselves can set symbols of change for climate protection by highlighting and showcasing sustainable best business practices. Moreover, alongside investors, governments need to place mounting pressure on the travel and tourism sector to lower emissions and increase sustainability via more stringent emissions standards, green tax incentives, and more ESG-linked investments.

Acknowledging the impact of travel and tourism

We have reached a decisive moment where we need to act to arrest climate change. Acknowledging the impact that travel and tourism, especially travel documents, has on the environment can help to raise awareness for more sustainable practices. Stakeholders in the identity industry as well as governments should cooperate to act as agents of change to help reform the way we travel and make better choices for the future of our planet. Our decisions of today will define our world of tomorrow.

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