Turning the tide on plastic

Peter Franklin
Thursday, 26 April 2018

Back in February we published an article about Marja Kok, a yacht captain who has dedicated her time and energy to convincing her fellow professional crew on superyachts that they can find better ways of providing drinking water onboard without the use of plastic bottles. After conducting a very comprehensive survey which established usage habits, and most importantly, indicated a clear willingness to change for the better, Marja set about providing an online reference source to support the continuation of her project.

Apart from sharing the results of the survey, the website entitled ‘’ is designed to share successful initiatives, and to continuously build and share information about practical alternatives to the consumption of drinking water from single use plastic bottles.

For instance, the site features a ‘Wall of Care’ slide show, with photos of ‘yachts that care for our oceans.’ These are all vessels that have provided evidence of the fact that they have permanently given up the use of drinking water in plastic bottles onboard.

Influential survey outcomes

A key point in Marja’s survey was about the willingness of superyachts to actually consider changing their habits. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, with over 96% of 132 yachts that responded answering YES to the following question:

Considering the amount of waste and pollution caused by plastic all over the world, the storage space used by plastic bottles on board, the time it takes for shopping and getting rid of the waste of bottles, are you willing to seriously consider the replacement of plastic bottled water by an environmental friendly, healthy, less space consuming and more cost-efficient type of drinking water?

In all 132 yachts responded to the survey which, according to Marja, is a representative view of the world fleet. The breakdown by type was as follows:

Motor yachts - private: 45,45%, 60 yachts
Motor yachts - charter: 12,12%, 16 yachts
Sailing yachts - private: 34,09%, 45 yachts
Sailing yachts - charter: 8,33%, 11 yachts

Another conclusive statistic which came across strongly in the survey responses was related to how drinking water is mostly consumed currently onboard superyachts. This indicates a kind of habit forming pattern which has not, so far, been questioned very much!

109 yachts, almost 82% of the total respondents, said that owners and guests onboard drink mainly bottled water!  Whilst they indicated that less crew (around 58%) are drinking from single use bottles. This seems to be in contrast to over 48% of yachts (64) saying that they have a water treatment / filtering system onboard for improving the quality of drinking water. However, answers to another question in the survey revealed that owners and guests prefer bottled water for a number of reasons such as: Better taste, easier to cool in a fridge, it’s considered to be healthier, and some require it with gas (bubbles).

Substantial volumes involved

The survey attempted to ascertain the volumes of bottled water involved, and asked the respondents to indicate / estimate how many litres per year they thought were consumed onboard. Almost 10% of the yachts surveyed (13) estimated that they consumed over 10,000 litres per year, and 18.8% (25 yachts) are getting through between 5,000 and 10,000 litres.  30% say that they use less than 1000 litres, and the remaining 40% or so, are guzzling their way through between 1000 and 5000 litres per year.

Thinking for a second or two about the upper end of this scale, just imagine the image of 20,000 half litre plastic bottles, being the potential annual plastic bottle refuse… from just one superyacht!

Yachts and oil tankers set an example

As a result of Marja’s survey and information outreach, quite a few yachts have pledged to give up using plastic water bottles, or demonstrated that they have already done so, and joined the ‘Wall of Care’ on the ‘’ website. Vessels on the Wall of Care slideshow include; super yachts for private, commercial charter or racing use, day charter boats, recreational and live-aboard yachts, and very significantly, a medical ship.

Another tangible success as a direct result of the survey, came when a Captain of an oil tanker became aware of the survey, got inspired, and persuaded his general manager to instigate a plastic bottle free policy for a fleet of 45 ships!

Action plan in progress

Whilst the survey results were coming in and being reconciled, Marja was busy with investigating the various alternatives that can be adopted onboard, as a practical and economically viable alternative to buying mineral water in single use plastic bottles. Under the tab ‘Action Plan’ on the website, there is further in information on water filters, cooling / dispensing systems and reusable bottles. So, depending on the size of yacht, and the budget available, there is potentially a solution available for every boat, owner or skipper who really wants to kick the single use drinking water bottle habit forever!

Marja is also freely available to discuss and suggest practical solutions, via a simple enquiry form in the Action Plan section on During the Palma Superyacht show Marja will be facilitator in a seminar for captains and crew about Turning the tide on plastic in superyachting. For more information please check out their website.

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Marja Kok in the spotlights

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