Since November 2018, Clear Ocean Pact has been working to unite the superyacht industry behind one single mission: To reduce it’s dependency on single-use plastic. How? Through the power of the individual.

We read the horrifying statistics everywhere, we see the images infiltrate our daily news feeds and the physical evidence is floating right in front of us. Our oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and of that huge expanse plastic pollution is entering every level of the ocean food chain, even ending up on our plates.

Quite simply, plastic is where plastic shouldn’t be: in our oceans and washing up on coastlines, causing devastating effects globally. When it comes to global conservation issues a lot of us are first to point the finger, blame somebody else and shift responsibility, with a constant dialogue surrounding who should fix it and how.

The existence and success of the superyacht industry is reliant upon the health of the oceans and therefore our industry has a significant obligation in conserving them. There have been several efforts among captains and crews to protect the ocean environments they love, but there also remains real challenges to overcome.

The superyacht industry does not operate in a vacuum; it relies on and influences a variety of different suppliers and businesses, and changing mindsets is not always easy. There is a real need to consolidate efforts and offer viable, economical alternatives to plastic practices and products that make change as feasible and straight-forward as possible.

The power of the individual

Launched in November 2018 , Clear Ocean Pact joined the fight to help clean up our oceans and we have been working ever since to unite the superyacht industry behind the PACT: Five common goals aligning the industry’s to reduce their dependency on single-use plastic. Through the PACT we have started to create a community within yachting of likeminded individuals to raise awareness and promote a cultural shift for change and a more sustainable yachting industry.

We recognise that the most effective way to combat the single-use plastic problem is to change attitudes and behaviours towards consumption. With a problem as big and complicated as plastic pollution, it is easy to question whether we as individuals can truly make a difference. Herein lies one of Clear Ocean Pact’s key principles: the power of the individual.

It takes just one individual to spread a message; each and every one of us makes a difference. One crew member raising awareness of the PACT, sharing knowledge and changing practices onboard will spread to a whole crew, to other yachts, marinas full of yachts, and across the entire industry and beyond. This fundamental domino effect is the driving force behind the change that we at Clear Ocean Pact want to see. So far, we have had more than 35 yachts sign up to the PACT, totalling some 20,000 GT, and over 400 crew that are now actively seeking ways to reduce their single-use plastic consumption.

The challenges

Changing established cultures and operations can be difficult and we acknowledge that there are significant challenges for crews wanting to affect real change. At Clear Ocean Pact, we work to support and engage our adoptees as much as possible. We have developed pledges that are actionable with viable alternatives and created a community whereby our adoptees can share knowledge and offer advice and guidance in overcoming challenges. These could include owner preferences for bottled water and specific toiletries that do not adhere to environmental standards, and monetary and logistical constraints that may arise; for example if a yacht needs to install a new water filtration system.

The opportunities

Despite these initial challenges, the PACT offers plenty of opportunities. Firstly, eliminating single-use plastic water bottles saves time and labour in provisioning for, and correctly disposing of them, money in constantly buying them, and solves the storage problem of finding somewhere onboard for hundreds of bottles. Adopting reusable water bottles and filtration systems eradicates these issues.

Within all departments on yachts, there is an issue with packaging. Food provisions, cleaning products and toiletries can all use excessive amounts of plastic and other non-biodegradable materials. Not to mention some of the chemicals within toiletries that can be harmful for the ocean. By becoming part of the PACT, you can change this. One example has been in Clear Ocean Pact’s partnership with Suntribe, a certified organic sunscreen that is safer for people and the environment. 14 million kilos of sunscreen ends up in the ocean from swimmers each year. Suntribe only contains 3 natural ingredients (zinc oxide, beeswax and coconut oil), that are ocean and reef-safe and has a completely recyclable container and label. If every superyacht promoted Suntribe over regular sunscreen, the impact could be substantial. The power of a simple change is the guiding principle of the PACT.

The PACT can also fuel creativity among crews, getting them to think differently about how they source viable alternatives, and how they can inspire more change onboard. With eco-friendly products rapidly growing in popularity, there is huge scope for interior and exterior crews to start changing their behaviours onboard by switching to these products.

A global impact

Whilst this process begins with the individual and primarily yacht crew, it goes so much further; enabling change on a much larger scale which filters out to the numerous players connected to the superyacht industry. When people think of the superyacht industry, they struggle to see past the huge luxury yacht that sits on the dock in front of them.  This industry is global and far reaching, from the design, construction and build through to the sale, ownership and management of a yacht. The industries that support these stages include maintenance, catering, delivery, safety, interior design, communication providers and many more. The superyacht industry is in a position to lead by example and influence a far greater change among their many collaborators.

Without a thriving ocean the superyacht industry would struggle to exist. In recent years there has been a significant positive shift in thinking and attitudes across this industry and a tremendous passion to drive real change, by individuals and organisations. Clear Ocean Pact is not creating a movement, nor do we want to control the “sustainability brand” of yachting; we are simply helping to organise and build on the dedication and passion already prominent across the industry – to create a more sustainable future for generations to come. We are doing this by researching and promoting viable alternative technologies, sharing information to inspire others and building a community to unite behind one common set of goals.

Our goal is to reach 1000 yachts pledged to the PACT by 2020, some 20% of the industry. If achieved, this will equate to approximately 375 tonnes of single-use plastics waste being saved each year. We believe that the superyacht industry can be pioneers for change and use its power to create a sustainable platform that goes far beyond our industry alone.

Help support us in this important mission by signing up here.

Gemma Harris
Guest Blogger

As a superyacht crew member, my job allows me to travel extensively, taking me both on and off the beaten track, it facilitates me being in places that I may have never previously thought about before ending up there. As a writer I highly value this aspect of the job, I therefore focus my writing on how yacht crew around the world can utilise their time off and make the most of the destination they may find themselves in. As yacht crew our stay in destinations can vary, knowing what to do when you have a quick fleeting stop to a 3 month stay in one place, is key. Please take a moment to look at my published work so far within the superyacht industry.