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Quark's 'Polar Promise' goes 'beyond reducing our footprint'

Quark expeditions
Building advocacy with Quark travelers is part of the Polar Promise PHOTO: David Merron
Polar expert Quark Expeditions' 'Polar Promise' builds on existing environmental and social initiatives to set concrete, measurable goals and sustainable outcomes to be achieved by 2025.

Addressing 'really complex issues'

'Quark Expeditions recognizes its responsibility to do more to protect these magnificent places,' President Andrew White said. '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 really complex issues facing the polar regions.'

White added that setting goals until 2025 demonstrates Quark's commitment.

'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,' he said.

In 2017, Quark all but eliminated single-use plastics by providing reusable water bottles and outfitting cabins with soap and shampoo dispensers. At the same time, staff provided straws only on request. The result: During a 131-day period on Ocean Endeavour, only 35 straws were used by a total of 2,189 passengers.

Additionally, by eliminating the unnecessary plastic packaging from supplied parkas, Quark will eliminate nearly 10,000 plastic bags.

Moving away from fleece

Quark has also changed the parkas' liners 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, Quark diverted 270 cubic meters (about the size of 2.5 humpback whales) of plastic, papers and glass as part of the SeaGreen initiative. The company is one of 22 founding cruise operators in the SeaGreen recycling pilot program.

Quark has worked with the South Georgia Heritage Trust since 2011 to deliver a multi-year, multimillion-dollar project to eradicate millions of introduced rodents that were consuming the eggs and chicks of seabirds and endemic birds of South Georgia.

The Polar Promise

The Polar Promise has four major focus areas. Embedding responsible business practices includes building on a culture of sustainability to empower staff and business partners to continually find ways to improve the way they do business. This includes helping the supply chain to engage in sustainable practices and continued active membership in the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO).

The focus on reducing the company's footprint and building resilience includes measuring, reporting and reducing carbon emissions; partnering to develop waste solutions in communities and ports where Quark operates, such as the SeaGreen recycling initiative in Ushuaia, Argentina; developing a zero waste roadmap and deploying new technologies to reduce waste on board, such as the MAGS waste system.

Inuit Cruise Training Initiative

The outreach and impact in polar environments area includes 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 and continued support to UN Clean Seas. Close liaison with AECO and IAATO to find opportunities to advance their mission and find new collaboration opportunities is key, too.

Making positive impact exponential is also part of the Polar Promise and involves understanding the transformational power of the polar regions to build advocacy with Quark travelers, and ensuring that the positive benefits of taking people to the polar regions outweighs any impact of doing that.

Quark supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which guide businesses toward achieving a sustainable society in 2030.

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