Today, Quark Expeditions unveils its sustainability strategy under the banner, “Polar Promise.” The strategy advances existing initiatives aimed at improving environmental and social outcomes in the polar regions, and provides a cohesive plan the expedition company will adhere to. The strategy translates Quark Expeditions’ ongoing and newly-announced efforts into concrete, measurable goals and sustainable outcomes to be achieved by 2025.
“Quark Expeditions recognizes its responsibility to do more to protect these magnificent places,” says Andrew White, President of Quark Expeditions. “We want to go beyond reducing our footprint. We want to work with other leaders in the industry and with our guests to address the complex and challenging issues facing the polar regions.”
“This is a journey and our strategy demonstrates our commitment by setting goals until 2025. We believe sustainable business is central to our license to operate in these regions and we hope to bring our partners and guests on the journey with us,” says Andrew White.
Quark Expeditions, which is approaching its 30th anniversary year, has a strong history of being profoundly committed to sustainable tourism. In 2017, Quark Expeditions all but eliminated single use plastics by providing guests with reusable water bottles, and outfitting cabins with refillable soap and shampoo dispensers. At the same time, Quark Expeditions bar and restaurant staff started supplying straws only on request. The result: During a 131-day period on the Ocean Endeavour, out of 2189 guests, only 35 straws were requested. Additionally, by eliminating the unnecessary plastic packaging from supplied parkas, Quark Expeditions will eliminate 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.
In the first half of the Antarctic 2019 season alone, Quark Expeditions diverted 270 cubic meters (about the size of 2 ½ humpback whales) of plastic, papers and glass as part of the SeaGreen initiative. Quark Expeditions is one of 22 founding cruise operators in the SeaGreen recycling pilot program.
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.
Building on the company’s track record, “Polar Promise” is a holistic strategy framework that focuses on addressing the greatest impacts of visiting the polar regions and also recognizes the power of the polar regions to transform those who experience them. The framework is broken into 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 on the strategy
- 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 our footprint and building resilience:
- Measuring, reporting and reducing carbon emissions
- Partnering to develop waste solutions in communities and ports where Quark Expeditions operate, such as SeaGreen recycling initiative in Ushuaia, Argentina
- Developing a zero waste roadmap, building on the company’s single use plastic free operations
- 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”.
Quark Expeditions supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which guide businesses towards the goal of achieving a sustainable society in 2030. The SDGs are core to this holistic sustainability framework.