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French Operator Brittany Ferries Turns the Tide on Plastic Waste

27th November 2019
Single Use Plastic: Brittany Ferries is in a drive to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of single use plastics on board its fleet of ferries including AFLOAT adds the ropax Kerry launched recently onto the year-round Cork-Santander service. Single Use Plastic: Brittany Ferries is in a drive to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of single use plastics on board its fleet of ferries including AFLOAT adds the ropax Kerry launched recently onto the year-round Cork-Santander service. Photo: Jane/Brittany Ferries-facebook

French operator, Brittany Ferries is realising the benefits of its drive to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of single use plastics on board its fleet of ferries by purging almost 5.7 million items of plastic per year.

The operator has a network sering the UK, France, Spain and Ireland. Over the last 18 months the company has been purging its onboard restaurants and cabins of single use plastic items, including cutlery, cups, lids, stirrers and straws.

Altogether 5,664,400 items of plastic have been eliminated per year, including over two million cups. In their place have come environmentally friendly alternatives made from bamboo, cardboard, paper and wood. If all these items were placed end to end, they’d stretch over 400 miles – the distance from London to Edinburgh.

Already the vast majority of meals consumed on Brittany Ferries ships are served on china plates alongside stainless steel cutlery, whilst most drinks are already served in glasses and china cups.

Other measures include the replacement of disposable shower gel sachets in cabin bathrooms with dispensers filled with eco-friendly gels, and the elimination of plastic bags in dustbins.

“The sea is our home, so of course we’re deeply aware not only of its beauty, but also its fragility,” says Brittany Ferries CEO Christophe Mathieu. “By tackling single use plastics we are determined to take responsibility and make a significant contribution to collective efforts to protect the seas upon which we sail. I’m delighted to see this project already bearing fruit.”

“We couldn’t have done this alone: we’re working closely with our suppliers to raise standards and to find innovative and creative solutions. And we’re also working with our customers and colleagues, who are increasingly driving our efforts to make changes. We want to make it easier for them to consume and recycle in line with their and our values whilst they’re on board our ships.”

“For sure, there’s much more to do, but this is a positive step forward, part of our long term mission to incorporate sustainability into everything that we do.”

In 2020 the company will renew its focus on airborne emissions when it welcomes its first LNG-powered ship, Honfleur as Afloat reported previously.

In addition a further pair of E-flexer class newbuilds are to follow: Salamanca in 2022 and Santoña in 2023. The trio will be amongst the first ferries of their type to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The introduction of LNG powered tonnage will offering significant environmental advantages (see cutting CO2) over traditional marine fuels, burning more efficiently and producing no sulphur, virtually no particulates and 95 per cent less nitrogen dioxide.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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