Quark Expeditions Unveils “Polar Promise” Sustainability Strategy

Antarctica at sunset
Antarctica // Photo by nikpal/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Quark Expeditions has unveiled a new sustainability strategy, “Polar Promise.” The strategy advances existing initiatives aimed at improving environmental and social outcomes in the polar regions, and provides a plan the expedition company will adhere to. Quark Expeditions says it hopes to reach these goals by 2025.

In 2017, Quark Expeditions eliminated single-use plastics by providing guests with reusable water bottles and outfitting cabins with soap and shampoo dispensers. The company's staff members also started supplying straws only upon request. In addition, the plastic packaging containing supplied Quark Expeditions parkas was eliminated and the fleece liners of the parkas were swapped with a more environmentally responsible material that eliminates micro-beads from entering the water systems each time a fleece liner is washed.

The framework is broken into four focus areas:

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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 the brand's footprint and building resilience:

  • Measuring, reporting and reducing carbon emissions
  • Partnering to develop waste solutions in communities and ports where Quark Expeditions operates, such as the 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 Clean Seas and close liaison with the Association of AECO and the 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”

Additionally, Quark Expeditions supports the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which guide businesses towards the goal of achieving a sustainable society in 2030. The SDGs are also core to their sustainability framework.

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