Expedition Cruise Sector Continues to Combat Plastic Waste in the Arctic

The Arctic expedition industry is increasing efforts to combat marine plastic pollution, including the reduction of single-use plastic onboard and organizing beach cleanups, new survey results show.

The survey was conducted by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), which is working with cruise operators to tackle plastic waste onboard ships as well as at the remote Arctic locations they visit, AECO said in a statement.

In 2018, AECO conducted a survey of its members to determine the industries’ efforts to combat marine plastic pollution. A new follow-up survey is tracking progress on the reduction of single-use plastic onboard and efforts to organizing beach cleanups.

“We’re very pleased to see that our members are more eager than ever to combat marine plastic pollution,” said Frigg Jørgensen, Executive Director of AECO. “In addition to carrying out cleanups, AECO members are working to educate guests about this issue. We also see that operators are making great efforts to replace single-use items on ships with more sustainable options,” he added.

Survey results show that AECO’s members are highly involved in beach cleanups in Svalbard with about 80% of survey respondents indicating that they participated in Clean Up Svalbard this past season as well as last year. These members organized dedicated beach cleanups with passengers, staff and crew as part on their shore excursions on all or some of their voyages. Cleanups also took place this past season in other Arctic regions, such as Greenland and Canada.

The new survey results indicate that nearly all survey respondents have made efforts to reduce single-use items onboard, with most efforts being focused in the restaurant and bar as well as the hotel department. According to those surveyed, the most significant challenges in reducing single-use waste is the availability of alternative goods in ports. This challenge AECO hopes to overcome in the future to ensure single-use plastic is reduced onboard.

In May, AECO released guidelines to help passengers reduce their single-use waste while traveling to the Arctic. The guidelines outline measures that can be taken before, during and after their trip. Survey results indicate that more than two-thirds of respondents have used AECO’s Clean Seas Guidelines for Visitors to the Arctic.

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