Maritime & Marine

Published: November 26, 2019 | Updated: November 26, 2019

Ferry company turns the tide on plastic waste (and 2020 will see it target airborne emissions)

Brittany Ferries’ Barfleur with Old Harry Rocks in the background.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A ferry company which operates a twice-daily passenger service from Poole is turning the tide on plastic waste.

Brittany Ferries has revealed it has purged almost 5.7 million items of plastic per year.

It hopes to eventually eliminate the use of single use plastics on board its fleet of ferries linking the UK, France, Spain and Ireland.

Over the last 18 months the company has heavily reduced single use plastic items, including cutlery, cups, lids, stirrers and straws, in its onboard restaurants and cabins.

A total of 5,664,400 items of plastic have been eliminated per year, including more than 2m 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 eaten on Brittany Ferries’ ships are served on china plates alongside stainless steel cutlery, while 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.

Christophe Mathieu, Chief Executive Officer, Brittany Ferries

Christophe Mathieu, Chief Executive Officer, Brittany Ferries, said: “The sea is our home, so of course we’re deeply aware not only of its beauty, but also its fragility.

“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.

“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 Brittany Ferries will renew its focus on airborne emissions when it welcomes its first LNG-powered ship, Honfleur, to be followed by two more: Salamanca in 2022 and Santoña in 2023.

An artist’s impression of Brittany Ferries’ new vessel, Honfleur. which is due to come into service next year.

The trio will be among the first ferries of their type to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) offering significant environmental advantages over traditional marine fuels, burning more efficiently and producing no sulphur, virtually no particulates and 95 per cent less nitrogen dioxide.

Brittany Ferries has 12 ships operating services connecting France, the UK, Ireland and Spain.

It carries between 2.5m and 2.7m passengers each year travelling in approximately 900,000 cars

Around 210,000 freight units are carried annually.

The company’s cruise ferry, the Barfleur, operates on the Poole to Cherbourg route.

It sails with both cars and foot passengers for morning crossings to France and return crossings in the evening.

Brittany Ferries also operates a twice weekly freight-only service from Poole to Bilbao in Spain.

Currently MV Connemara is running on the Poole to Cherbourg service while Barfleur undergoes annual maintenance.