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Volvo Cork Week leads the way with plastic free event

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Volvo Cork Week has introduced significant sustainability measures this year as part of the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s commitment to leading the way in Ireland on low impact events and ocean health.

Many events across Ireland have adopted strong recycling measures but organisers of Volvo Cork Week have gone one step further by putting a special focus on removing the use of single use plastics. The club introduced a full deposit return scheme on all outdoor drinks, in association with Heineken, and a deposit return system for reusable coffee cups at the clubhouse, in association with 2gocup. This has removed tens of thousands of single use plastics.  

A special green team and green policy was created at the Royal Cork for the event, who also introduced free water refills at hydration stations in addition to segregated waste bins with clear pictorial signage on site to ensure as much as possible is recycled.

In addition, there was a focus on sustainability at their family fun day and organisers created a marine market to promote local sustainable products within the community. As part of their education and outreach, children were introduced to marine conservation at a family friendly event with marine scientist, best-selling author and Volvo Car Ireland ambassador Finn Van der Aar. Finn is passionate about helping people to live more sustainably and presents crucial environmental and oceanic research in a way that is understandable to all.  

During her workshop, children had the chance to learn about how to care for the sea and coastal areas around them. Finn shared how she fell in love with the sea, her fascinating work as a marine biologist as well as tips on how we can combat some marine conservation issues such as marine noise pollution and how to reduce marine plastics. He also gave tips on how to do a great beach clean-up!  

Throughout the week the club is sourcing local food and supplies where possible and the world-renowned regatta welcomed the first classic yacht race to their shores this year.  Competitors are also being encouraged to conserve energy where possible (e.g. turn off lights).

Gavin Deane, General Manager, Royal Cork said, “We like to think that sailing is sustainable, but the truth is that the industry needs to cut its carbon footprint by at least half by 2030 to align with the Paris Agreement. The Royal Cork is committed to actively managing our environmental footprint and this year we developed a significant sustainability strategy for Volvo Cork Week, in association with Heineken, with specific actions to minimise energy consumption, water consumption and reduce waste sent to landfill.  We want to see our seas and waterways free of contamination and plastic pollution, and we want to leave a more environmentally sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.”

Other initiatives in the Volvo Cork Week Green Events Policy include:

•           A bunded on-shore refuelling area for safety boat drivers.

•           Trigger nozzles on hoses for washing down boats to improve water efficiency.

•           Details of sensitive habitats/wildlife to be avoided in Sailing Instructions and briefings.

•           Paper free communications where possible.

•           Provide public transport details on publicity materials and the website.

•           Source products with less packaging to prevent waste.

•           Source recyclable or reusable crockery and cutlery and cups.

•           Provide oil spill kits, fuel collars, no-spill refueling devices and training for support vessels and staff.

•           Prohibit overboard discharge of any rubbish including bow decals and include this rule in the Sailing Instructions & OR Notice of Race.

•           Prohibit littering at shore facilities, including cigarette butts and chewing gum.

•           Affix bow stickers to competitors’ boat to ensure they do not come loose during racing.

•           Instigate a boat wash down system prior to and after the event to prevent the spread of non-native invasive species.

•           Provide competitors with refillable water bottles and signpost to drinking water to reduce the number of disposed plastic bottles.

•           Record energy and water use and try to reduce these figures for future events.

•           Organise a litter pick to collect any litter which may not have found its way into the right bins.

•           Constantly meet & review the environmental impact of the event and consider improvements for the next one. Note these and implement for future events.

In addition to its green initiatives for Volvo Cork Week, the Royal Cork has a full sustainability plan in place.  For more see corkweek.ie and royalcork.com.

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