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  • Writer's pictureChloé Collet

Undoubtedly, one of the challenges facing the yachting industry is the recent equation between yachts and sustainability. Sustainability is the word on everyone’s lips. Every yachting related company has developed a sustainability agenda: yacht designers, architects, ship/yacht builders, brokerage houses, supply companies, management, and last but not least, yachts and their crew.

From building a sustainable “eco-friendly” port or refit facility to developing exciting innovative alternatives for green propulsion systems and other onboard advanced technology, all the actors are going green. Fossil free, zero emissions, carbon capture, decarbonisation, each sector is seeking solutions in their respective domains.

The Role of Crew in Sustainability

And what about crew? Can we talk about sustainable crew? What are our expectations as an industry with regards to the crew who ultimately operate the yachts and how they should be trained to recognise, audit, and put procedures into place in order to play their part in the onboard sustainability process? Many yachts have already taken the lead.

Captain Anton Hristov representing the 40 metre MY Nuri, for example, is proud to communicate that MY Nuri is a pioneer in offsetting all of its carbon fuel emissions on charter. Additionally, the yacht has implemented a special vacuum waste disposal system that enables all types of regular waste to be segregated and stored onboard until an appropriate recycling facility is located.

Beyond Compliance: A Deeper Commitment

A sustainable approach would go beyond complying with MARPOL or the IMO Polar Code that regulate garbage, sewage, and grey water management, for example. It entails examining each role onboard and creating awareness in all departments on how choices can be made to use sustainable products and implement sustainable methods and onboard operations.

For example, on the deck and in the interior, this can translate itself in an audit of all the products (cleaning, polishing, varnishing, ...) used and sourcing alternatives that are planet friendly, not only in their composition but also where and how they are manufactured. A great eco-friendly product that is manufactured at 10,000 km from the yacht may not be the best alternative to a locally manufactured product with similar virtues.

Efficient Management and Forward Planning

With better management and forward planning during a yacht build or refit can shipments and parts or other goods be supplied together? Each link in the chain has a vital part to play in reducing the number of duplicated trips to bring supplies to the yacht if a coordinated and sustainable approach is adopted.

Megan Hickling, the TSF Sustainability Editor, stresses the importance of “life-cycle thinking” whereby “taking a comprehensive approach that examines the entire journey of a product or service – from raw material extraction and production to its use and ultimate disposal”.

Public Perception and Industry Accountability

Why bother you may ask? Well, yachting has been in the spotlight again this year with various protests, demonstrations, and targeted actions from climate activists. The general public have yachts on their radar and are demanding accountability regulation of the industry with regards to sustainability.

Christophe Bourillon, the CEO of the PYA, recently commented on how the CEOs of power plants and senior managers in mainstream industries are trained in dealing with the media and crisis communication in the event of public demonstration from a climate activist group and questioned whether any yacht captain or senior crew member had received such training.

Recruitment for a Sustainable Future

As recruiters, we’re looking forward to welcoming a new generation of sustainable crew and engaging in the conversation with our yacht clients on how sustainability can be integrated into the recruitment process.

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