Quark Expeditions, a leader in polar adventures, marked Earth Day by revealing its 'Polar Promise' sustainability plan.
The polar adventure tour company already takes actions to protect and improve environment and societies in these regions. The Polar Promise brings together existing and new efforts that put words into action, measure success, and set goals to achieve by 2025.
It's about more than reducing the footprint of the tours it operates in the world's most remote and pristine places. Quark has been operating for nearly 30 years, and from the beginning has assumed a responsibility to work with other industry leaders, as well as guests on tours to achieve truly sustainable tourism to protect the world's polar ecosystem, wildlife, and way of life.
Even Small Efforts Make a Big Difference
The tour operator was one of the earliest adopters of a ban on single use plastics, and provides guests instead with reusable water bottles. You'll also find your cabin outfitted with refillable soap and shampoo dispensers. And, showing how guests are also part of the solution, when Quark Expeditions bar and restaurant staff started supplying straws only on request, during a 131-day period, only 35 straws were requested from over 2000 guests.
Additionally, by eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging from supplied parkas, Quark Expeditions eliminates nearly 10,000 plastic bags. Quark Expeditions has also changed the liners in the exclusive Quark Expedition Parkas from fleece to a more environmentally responsible “puffy” liner that eliminates polluting micro-beads from entering the water systems every time a fleece liner is washed.
Quark Expeditions is also one of 22 founding cruise operators in the SeaGreen recycling pilot program. In the first half of the Antarctic 2019 season alone, it diverted plastic, papers and glass garbage the size of the size of 2 ½ humpback whales as part of the SeaGreen initiative.
Quark Expeditions has worked with and contributed to the South Georgia Heritage Trust since 2011 to deliver a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project to eradicate millions of introduced rodents that were consuming the eggs and chicks of seabirds and endemic birds of South Georgia.
4-Part Polar Promise
Building on its experiences to date, Quark's “Polar Promise” is a holistic strategy to address the greatest impacts of visiting the polar regions and also recognizes the power of the polar regions to transform those who experience them. There are four focus areas:
Embedding responsible business practices:
- Building on a culture of sustainability to empower staff and business partners to continually find ways to improve the way they do business
- Embedding sustainability goals and targets into business strategy and staff incentives
- Measuring and reporting success
- Helping the company’s supply chain to engage with sustainable practices and policies
- Continued leadership and active membership of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO).
Reducing tours' footprint and building resilience:
- Measuring, reporting and reducing carbon emissions
- Partnering to develop waste solutions in communities and ports where Quark Expeditions operate
- Developing a zero waste roadmap that builds on plastic reduction programs
- Deploying new technologies to reduce waste in Quark Expedition’s fleet, such as the MAGS waste system.
Outreach and impact in polar environments:
- Collaborating on training and employment opportunities in the Arctic, such as the Inuit Cruise Training Initiative
- Continuing to invest in research partnerships and citizen science projects in the Arctic and Antarctic, in-kind and direct support of groups such as Polar Bears International and Penguin Watch
- Continued support to UN Clean Seas and close liaison with the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) to find opportunities to advance their mission and find new collaboration opportunities.
The Polar Legacy - making positive impact exponential:
- Understanding the transformational power of the polar regions to build advocacy with Quark Expedition guests
- Understanding that the positive benefits of bringing people to the polar regions outweigh any impact of taking people there – “that we put in more than we take out”.
About Quark Expeditions:
Specializing in expeditions to the Antarctic and the Arctic, Quark Expeditions® has been the leading provider of polar adventure travel for three decades. With a diverse fleet of specially equipped small-expedition vessels, icebreakers, and unique land-based adventures, Quark Expeditions offers travelers unparalleled access to the most remote places on earth. Led by passionate and seasoned expedition teams, including scientists, naturalists and researchers, Quark Expeditions’ onboard program focuses on guest interaction to educate and enrich the passenger experience.
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Photo: Quark Expeditions; Credit: David-Merron
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