THURSDAY 13 SEP 2018 10:57 AM


Shipping and logistics firm Maersk is nothing if not intrinsically tied to the ocean. Its fleet of ships is hundreds strong and uses the world’s oceans as a motorway, shuttling goods from place to place and facilitating a globalised economy. But if those oceans become polluted beyond help, that poses a problem not just for fish, but for Maersk’s ability to carry out its services effectively. To lead the charge in changing this, Maersk has announced a revolutionary project to clean up the Pacific plastic patch.

Maersk has a long history of sustainable business, working across recycling, the circular economy, responsible business practices, food conservation and decarbonisation. The Ocean Cleanup project is a landmark though, in commercial commitments to lessening the impact humans have had on the seas.

The garbage patch gained notoriety earlier this year because of LADBible’s ‘Trash Isles’ campaign, highlighting the massive problem floating in the middle of the north Pacific. Its size, remoteness and nature has posed a challenge to clean up options. Maersk, armed with new technology and a fleet of ships capable of reaching the patch, is suing for change.

Working with the Ocean Cleanup, a Rotterdam-based charity founded in 2013 with the aim of ridding the oceans of plastic, Maersk has engineered a new system for plastic collection. Up to 60, 600m long buoy systems will be deployed throughout the patch, shepherding the plastic floating above, and lurking just below, the surface into a smaller area. Then, a Maersk ship will periodically come and collect the rubbish, returning it to land to be recycled. The system is free floating, solar powered and will not harm sea life.

“We are truly proud to be supporting the first installation of the Ocean Cleanup System. Large towing operations have been a part of Maersk Supply Service’s work-scope for decades. It is rewarding to see that our marine capabilities can be utilised within new segments, and to support solving the important environmental problem with plastics in the oceans,” says Steen Karstensen, CEO of Maersk Supply Service.

The system is projected to clean up 50% of the patch every five years. If the system succeeds, it will be the first time free floating plastic will have been collected at sea.

“As a responsible maritime operator, we are committed to ensuring that the oceans can remain a healthy environment for generations to come,” says Claus Hemmingsen, vice CEO of A.P. Moller-Maersk.

Every year, Communicate – through the Corporate Engagement Awards – recognises sustainability and CSR efforts that exemplify businesses doing good in their communities or for the world. The ones that do this most effectively do something that has a relationship to or benefit on the company itself.

For more from Communicate magazine, follow us on Twitter @Communicatemag