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In time for Earth Day, the Auckland ferry group no longer offers plastic straws as first step to reduce waste and reliance on plastics
Auckland, 19 April 2018
To recognise Earth Day 2018, Fullers and 360 Discovery Cruises announced a stronger commitment to looking after the Hauraki Gulf’s marine environment. Across the world, this year’s Earth Day theme is ‘End Plastic Pollution’ – an effort directly in line with Fullers Group’s business strategy and action across their entire fleet.
Fullers vessels operate in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, which is 1.2 million hectares of ocean and more than 50 islands – a protected area home to thousands of species.
“We’re out on the Gulf every day, and feel it’s our responsibility to help keep the waterways clean,” said Fullers Group Chief Executive Officer Mike Horne.  “Plastics are one of the most harmful materials to sea life, and we’re making a big effort to reduce our reliance on plastic at our onboard cafés.”
In March, Fullers Group began an audit across all vessels – looking at what products currently stocked at cafés and noting any unnecessary plastics and landfill items they can eliminate or replace with eco-friendly, plant-based alternatives. While the company has committed to an overhaul of cutlery, cups and other café items in the coming months, one easy first step was to eliminate all plastic drinking straws.
Monty Bailey, an eight-year-old Waiheke resident, delivered a presentation to Horne about the harmful effect of straws, encouraging Fullers to stop stocking them.
“Monty’s presentation was perfectly timed, as we were already in the middle of planning our plastics audit,” said Horne. “His points were the catalyst to decide what item to remove first to mark our commitment to a reduction of single-use plastics. Thank you, Monty, for your passion and taking the time to share it with our business.”
While there are other plastics to be removed down the track, for most, straws are not necessary to enjoy a beverage. Plastic straws are among the top 10 items found during beach clean-ups, and ultimately end up in waterways. That’s because they’re small and lightweight, and often don’t make it into recycling bins. Once in the water, their size makes them easy for marine life to accidentally digest.
Next steps for Fullers include encouraging customers to use their own coffee mugs at onboard cafés.  While all vessels already have compostable coffee cups, they are being stocked with biodegradable cutlery, wine and water cups. In the coming months, there will be dedicated compost bins on board to maximise the company’s environmental impact.
“We want to encourage customers to consider the environment and think twice about any single-use item they use on our services,” said Horne. “Thanks to all our customers for your support of our sustainability efforts. We’ll keep you posted as more products change over and we continue to increase our efforts to protect the Hauraki Gulf.”