Is it possible to run an eco-friendly yacht charter business? Unfortunately, yachting is not something that is generally associated with eco-friendly practices. With its reputation for opulent luxury on the high seas comes a lot of environmental baggage that the industry struggles to shed. Anchors scrape against seabeds, crew and passengers produce massive amounts of non-recyclable waste, and environmentalists rage against the unsustainable lavishness of it all.

However, it doesn’t have to be like that. Many yacht charter businesses are now starting to implement practices that have the ability to drastically reduce a charter yacht’s impact on the environment, all the while still maintaining a quality life onboard. Yacht charter companies are already proving that eco-friendly operations are entirely impossible – and without any significant impact on the running costs or passenger experience.


The Clear Ocean Pact 

As a guideline to this project, yacht charter companies have signed the Clear Ocean Pact, an initiative that brings the global fleet together in a concerted effort to reduce the environmentally damaging aspects of yacht travel. The main focus of the Clear Ocean Pact is to reduce the use of single-use plastics on charter yachts. This alone will go a long way towards reducing the industry’s environmental impact. The pact’s website estimates that, for every 10,000 crew members employed on yachts, around 3,200,000 plastic water bottles are consumed every year. The pact not only aims to have 1,000 super yachts signed on to the pact by November 2020, but also aims to find viable and economic alternatives to the use of single-use plastics on these vessels. They also plan on implementing several other eco-friendly practices to transform the fleet and drastically cut back its impact on the oceans.

Practical Implementation

The aims of the pact are very noble. But, what do they mean to yacht companies or the people who plan to start implementing and running them? How can these goals and principles be implemented in the everyday running of a yacht?

There are already a number of success stories proving that the aims of the pact can quite easily be put into action. Right at the outset of your charter company, before you even order any supplies of bottled water or cleaning detergents, implement these eight alternatives that will help to get your fleet started in the true spirit of the pact. 

1. Sustainable Drinking Water Supplies: 

For most charter companies, quite understandably, the hydration of their crew and passengers trumps environmental concerns. People need to stay hydrated and, therefore, sufficient water supplies must be loaded up to keep thirst at bay. This is why so many crews still take thousands of plastic bottles of water on board with them. Instead, change over to reusable bottles and, if there is no water filtration system on the vessels, have one installed. At the very least, you can change over to cans and cartons, but the better option is to provide reusable drinking canisters that can be refilled from the onboard filtration system. 

2. Zero Single-Use Products 

In the charter yacht business, every little thing you serve to your passengers or provide for your crew is single-use and disposable. This creates mountains of waste. The goal is to eliminate that before you even start. Bottles, straws, coffee cups, cling film, bags, and sachets of sugar and milk, to name a few. They all seem very convenient, but it’s easy to get into the habit of using more sustainable solutions. Here are some key items that will be great for a start: 

  • Silicon Ziploc bags (instead of plastic ones), 
  • Drinking straws made of bamboo, glass or stainless steel, 
  • Non-plastic shopping bags, 
  • Reusable food covers (instead of cling film), 
  • Reusable coffee cups (you can even gift them to your passengers), 
  • Rechargeable batteries, and
  • Glass or aluminum spray bottles for cleaning products.

These products mentioned are not exhaustive by a long shot, the list goes on.

3. Non-Toxic, Reef-Friendly Sunscreen

Your passengers will want to take a swim in the ocean from time to time, or even go snorkeling and explore the rich ocean life. Before heading out, they will want to protect themselves against the sun. Of course, most sunscreens are toxic to the reefs that line the ocean floors. The lotions leech off your passengers’ bodies into the water and are left behind to poison the delicately balanced ecosystem. The good news is that there are many reef-friendly alternatives available. Just look for ones that are free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, and stock up on those.

4. Zero Waste Bin Liners

Plastic waste bin liners are a terrible waste. Your crew would have to empty them on a daily basis, meaning that large numbers of partially filled, single-use plastic bags are getting tossed away throughout a journey. Rather, make waste paper baskets into receptacles for dry waste only and go without lining them completely. Food scraps and wet waste can be thrown into the larger, general waste bins. All of the contents of these bins can then be sorted in recycling bins to be properly disposed of when you stop at the next port.

5. Plastic Free Toiletries

Most disposable bathroom products contain plastic, such as dental floss, facial wipes, and Q tips. Once again, there are biodegradable alternatives available for all of these essentials.

6. Chemical-Free Hygiene and Cleaning Products

Most commercially available soaps, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, and moisturizers contain chemicals that we don’t need. In fact, they are sometimes not only harmful to our bodies but are certainly harmful to the environment, which is where they go when they get rinsed down the drain. There are so many natural alternatives available that will do the job just as well and that have no unpleasant side effects for either people or the ocean. You can also switch to eco-friendly cleaning detergents.

7. Meat-Free Meals

We know this is a hard one for some people, and we wouldn’t suggest that you cut out meat completely. But, you could introduce meat-free meals, say once or twice a week or even one meal per day. The meat industry is a major contributor to climate change, so any reduction in the demand for meat helps a lot. 

8. Eco-Friendly Crew Uniforms

When ordering new uniforms for your crew, do some research and find suppliers that use fabric from sustainable sources. Remember to make sure that no harmful chemicals are used in the printing and dyeing processes.

These are all relatively easy fixes that can markedly reduce your environmental impact. None of them are any more costly than the standard, long-established measures, yet they will all have a dramatic and cumulative reductive effect on the harmful traces your yacht leaves in the ocean.

Sustainable Propulsion

Taking into account the importance of all of the above measures, however, running a yacht is not just about your onboard accessories. The latest advances in propulsion technology mean that yachts can also travel without any emissions. With the endorsement of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s Sustainable Yachting Network, an emission-free drive concept was unveiled last year that uses solar energy and electrolysis to produce green hydrogen to power an electric engine and onboard appliances. This is just one green propulsion concept that has been put forward to solve the problem of carbon emissions. Several sustainable yachts have been introduced to the market in the past few years, among which there are low-emission diesel generator sets that greatly reduce carbon footprints.

Much of this technology has yet to reach anywhere near full market penetration as it is still in the experimental stages. But, there are already many hybrid or low-emission propulsion options available, and a good yacht management company, like Siebert, can help you find the one best suited to your budget and other requirements.

Carbon Offsets

If you are still concerned about your yachting charter company’s carbon footprint despite having taken all available measures to reduce it, you can look at investing in carbon offsets. These are credits purchased through non-profit funds to drive sustainable projects such as renewable power plants, tree planting, biofuel production, energy-efficient lighting installations, and more. This will allow you and your passengers to have carbon-neutral charter vacations. While this does help with carbon emissions, it doesn’t do much to balance out any direct damage done to the ocean environment.

Eco-Friendly Charters Are Possible

With measures such as these and more that are only now being developed, eco-friendly charters can indeed become a reality. The key to drastically reducing not only your effect on the oceans but also your carbon footprint is to implement many small innovations, such as the ones mentioned, the cumulative effect of which should be to bring you as close to completely eco-friendly yachting as you can get. As more and more innovations are introduced in the future, you can gradually make your operations both 100% carbon-neutral and friendly to ocean life.


About Siebert Yacht Management

Siebert Yacht Management is a professional yacht service company that takes pride in providing a personalized service for our clients. Siebert Yacht Management provides 95% of its services in-house. With a highly trained staff that can service anything from the bottom to the top of the antennas, and anything in between. Siebert Yacht Management believes that the secret to a highly skilled technician is through training and hands-on experience. Our technicians have acquired many years in training and earned certifications from an assortment of engine manufacturers, electronic manufacturers, NMEA, and ABYC. All of our technicians, including John Siebert, must retain their NMEA and ABYC Certifications in order to service our fleet of yachts. Siebert Yacht Management stands behind our workmanship with a one-year guarantee. In addition to managing and maintaining your fleet for maximum performance, we can also help you with advice and supplies for your eco-friendly yacht charter company.