Editorial / 10 Jul 2022

Tackling plastic pollution, every day of the year

Plastic Free July celebrates efforts to reduce and reuse single-use plastics. But at GAC, we’re working all year round to eliminate throwaway plastic, encourage the use of reusable alternatives, and tackle marine pollution.

Lynne Clarke, Communications Manager for Europe & Africa and one of GAC’s clean seas champions, tells us more.

Lynne cleanseas social

“Back when GAC was the official logistics provider for the global Ocean Race 2017-18, which had sustainability as a central theme, I attended the first Ocean Summit in Alicante. It was a real eye-opener - shocking images of sea life dying as a direct result of the plastic we discard and the determination of the speakers to take action inspired me to get involved.

IMG 5487

At first, it was personal. I bought a reusable water bottle and vowed to never buy water in small bottles again. No more plastic straws or plastic stemmed cotton buds either. I became an anti-plastic evangelist.

“What difference does my one water bottle make?” ask one billion people.

It’s simple – one billion people asking that question means one billion plastic bottles thrown in the trash and potentially heading out to sea.

"Every minute, one garbage truck full of plastic is dumped into our ocean."

The Ocean Race’s sustainability programme built around the UN Environment’s #CleanSeas initiative won the ‘Best Corporate Campaign or Initiative in Sport for Good' category of the international Beyond Sport Awards in New York in 2018. By then, many GAC companies around the world and hundreds of GAC people had already signed the #CleanSeas pledge.

Since then, the Group has implemented its Roadmap to Sustainability, aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including ‘Life Below Water’ which aims to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. Learn more about GAC’s Sustainability Strategy at www.gac.com/sustainability.

Geotagging for a better future

In 2021, GAC joined forces with Eyesea, a new not-for-profit organisation which had developed an app that uses geotagged pictures, taken by seafarers and other maritime sector workers, to chart maritime pollution. GAC is now one of many maritime organisations including ship owners and management companies to become a fully-fledged partner. Nick Browne, the head of GAC’s Sustainability Working Group and I are proud Ambassadors.

GAC companies around the world are now working with Eyesea and similar initiatives, submitting photos via the Eyesea app to enable efforts to eliminate marine pollution to be focused where they are needed the most.

Action stations
There are many ways we can all take action to tackle the tide of plastic that threatens to swamp our seas, and more:

  • Seek out reusable or biodegradable alternatives to single-use plastic bags, cups, bottles, straws, packing and more.
  • When plastic is unavoidable, get creative and re-use it (larger water bottles can be repurposed as irrigation systems for vegetable patches).
  • Keep an eye open for plastic pollution. Record it, report it, collect it for proper disposal.
  • Use your influence to change the attitude of friends, families, even company policy.
  • Spread the word!"

Latest Insights