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A pact for the ocean

Clear Ocean Pact is helping the superyacht industry to ditch single-use plastics
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

This article first appeared in our Restoration Revolution issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 06 Sept 2019. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Main image: MY ‘AWOL’ has signed up to Clear Ocean Pact. It’s captained by Tristan Mortlock; check out his YouTube channel @superyachtcaptain1

On 14 August, Greta Thunberg once again made the headlines when she decided to travel the 3,000 miles from Plymouth to New York City on Malizia II, a racing yacht equipped with solar panels and underwater turbines.

On 14 August, Greta Thunberg once again made the headlines when she decided to travel the 3,000 miles from Plymouth to New York City on Malizia II, a racing yacht equipped with solar panels and underwater turbines.

Yachting isn’t always a zero-emission affair, but the industry is beginning to unite behind another urgent environmental issue: there’s currently a strong movement to rid the sector of single-use plastics.

Ocean plastics

About eight million tonnes of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually; a recent expedition led by University College Cork (UCC) even found human plastic waste in a submarine canyon 2,125m deep.

In 2018, Clear Ocean Pact, supported by official partner Hill Robinson, set out to reduce the superyacht industry’s dependence on single-use plastics. The not-for-profit is encouraging yachts to commit to a five-pledge PACT designed to inspire a different attitude towards plastics and help each yacht to lower its plastics footprint.

One individual who raises awareness of the PACT and changes on-board practices will help to influence a whole crew and eventually a whole marina – then, with any luck, the entire industry and beyond.

Supporting ethical business

Since Clear Ocean Pact launched, crews have started to reconsider which on-board products to use and whether more ethical alternatives are available. In turn, this will help to support businesses that are creating eco products in sustainable packaging.

Changes made by captains and crew will also have a positive environmental impact on the industries that support the various stages of designing, constructing, selling, owning and managing yachts.


1. To avoid any use of plastic bottled drinking water.
2. To filter and safely dispose of all washing machine microplastic waste.
3. To eliminate the use of all single-use plastic items with readily available alternatives, starting with the items due to be banned in the EU in 2021.
4. To reduce the use of single-use plastic toiletries.
5. To actively source provisions with low single-use plastic footprint packaging.

Wider positive change

The PACT was developed to embrace change in yachting, but also to inspire others to follow suit. Beyond the superyacht industry, the PACT is driving positive change in unexpected places; the framework has a deliberate, built-in flexibility that means it can be adapted for use in entirely different sectors.

The Printers Against Plastic campaign led by ABC Imaging in London was inspired by Clear Ocean Pact, and chef Skye Gyngell, who pledged to drop single-use plastics from her kitchen at Spring, is taking the PACT approach to London’s hospitality sector.

1,000 yachts by 2020

At the time of going to press, 44 yachts had signed up to the PACT, and over 400 crew members are now actively seeking ways to reduce their single-use plastic consumption. The goal is for 1,000 yachts to pledge to the PACT by 2020, which will represent around 20% of the industry. If achieved, this will equate to approximately 375 tonnes of single-use plastic waste being saved each year.

Behind Clear Ocean Pact is a belief that the superyacht industry can be a pioneer for change that extends far beyond its sector alone.

Click here to find out more about Clear Ocean Pact, and to help reduce the dependency on single-use plastics in yachting.

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