Plastic Free Oceans: Maersk Supply Service, The Ocean Cleanup Extend Partnership

January 13, 2021

Photo credit: The Ocean Cleanup
Photo credit: The Ocean Cleanup

Danish offshore support vessel operator Maersk Supply Service will continue providing marine support to The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit engineering and environmental organization working to rid oceans of plastic pollution.

The Ocean Cleanup’s mission is to develop advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. To achieve this goal, the company's aim to stop the inflow via rivers and clean up what has already accumulated in the ocean. Its ultimate goal is reaching a 90% reduction of floating ocean plastic by 2040.

Maersk Supply Service has provided marine support for The Ocean Cleanup since 2018, with its anchor handlers Maersk Launcher, Maersk Transporter, and Maersk Handler, and crew supporting various test phases of the offshore operation in the Pacific Ocean and the North  Sea. 

The first collection of plastic waste was turned into new, fully recycled products in fall 2020. The relationship between the two companies has now been extended for three more years. 

"As a responsible maritime operator, we are committed to ensuring that the oceans can remain a healthy environment for generations to come. We are therefore very pleased to not just prolong but broaden the partnership agreement initiated back in 2018,” says Mette Refshauge, VP, Corporate Communications & Sustainability at Maersk.

Besides Maersk Supply Service’s support with vessel operations and offshore project management, Maersk will now support The Ocean Cleanup with logistics end-to-end handling services, ranging from worldwide shipment from different locations to airfreight, container and special transport, customs clearance, and warehouse and storage management.

“We will have a transport and supply chain manager fully embedded in The Ocean Cleanup´s office in Rotterdam. That program manager will serve as the single-channel for them to engage with the full range of Maersk’s supply chain and transport services globally and will help The Ocean Cleanup to develop their own supply chain management capacity over time,” adds Mette.The Ocean Cleanup has recently started making sunglasses made from plastic removed from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch during our operations in 2019. All proceeds from the sale will go towards the
continuation of the cleanup - Photo Credit: The Ocean Cleanup

“Maersk’s support over the last three years has been invaluable to furthering our mission. We are grateful to not only renew this partnership, but to strengthen it with their end-to-end logistics service. This contribution to our mission will not only help us clean more plastic from the ocean, but it will help us to effectively deploy more Interceptors river cleaning systems, and develop our next products made of certified plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” said Lonneke Holierhoek, Director of Science & Operations at The Ocean Cleanup.

As part of the partnership agreement, Maersk will also assist The Ocean Cleanup in deploying scientific sensor technology aboard Maersk’s own fleet to map plastic floating in the oceans and help the organization have a better understanding of the severity of the problem they are working to solve.

Plastic policy

Separately, Maersk Supply Service announced it was launching a Plastic Policy to increase its focus on how it can reduce plastic waste from its own operations and supply chain.

"Our seafarers sail the ocean every day and see the increasing problem with plastic polluting our oceans. As a responsible maritime operator, Maersk Supply Service is committed to ensuring the oceans remain a healthy environment for future generations to come. We look forward to continuing the collaboration with The Ocean Cleanup and providing project management and marine support over the coming years,” says Steen S. Karstensen, CEO of Maersk Supply Service.

Maersk Supply Service's new Plastic Policy has three navigating principles:

 1. Use the company's marine expertise to help come up with solutions to rid plastic from the oceans

2. Avoid unnecessary plastic in its operations

3. Engage with suppliers, partners, customers, and employees to find solutions to minimize plastic use. The company said it will be transparent about its results and learnings

Karstensen said: "Plastic waste in our oceans is an increasing issue. With the new Plastic Policy, we commit to how we will work to reduce our plastic footprint and actively take part in solving this global environmental problem. We will do this in partnerships and close collaboration – with our employees, suppliers, partners, customers and industry peers. 

"A great takeaway from the collaboration with The Ocean Cleanup is the willingness people have to find solutions that are both impactful for the marine industry and are bettering for the environment. We  believe that we can make a change and we can do more together."

Support the Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup, founded by Boyan Slat in 2013, has recently started making sunglasses made from plastic removed from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch during our operations in 2019.

"Designed in California by Yves Béhar and made in Italy by Safilo – this is probably the most stylish way you can help rid the oceans of plastic. And, should the time come, they’ve been designed to be easily recycled," the company said, describing the sunglasses.

All proceeds from the sale of these sunglasses -EUR 199 apiece - will go towards the continuation of the cleanup. 

"When we return to the patch...we estimate that we can clean an area equivalent to 24 football fields of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from the proceeds of just one pair of sunglasses. If we sell every pair, that means we could clean half a million football fields worth of ocean," The Ocean Cleanup said. Find more details about The Ocean Cleanup sunglasses here.

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