Recent research estimates that one tenth of all plastic that is created every year eventually ends up in one of our oceans, and 70 per cent of which finds its way to the ocean floor, where it will likely never degrade*. Also recently reported by UK ship supplier, Hutton’s Group, is that sales of bottled water are up 30 per cent on last year’s figures. In a statement, the supplier revealed that this January alone, it sold almost 40,000 large bottles of still water and nearly 20,000 small bottles to the marine industry.

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Alex Taylor, managing director at Hutton’s Group, attributes this increase to a growing awareness of healthy living and the industry-wide deterrence of alcohol on board vessels. “We are getting clear signals from our customers that their crews want to live a healthy lifestyle while on board and we think this increase in requests for bottled water reflects this desire,” he states. “I also think the portability aspect of a bottle of water is having an impact too – seafarers want to have clean water at their fingertips while they are working.”

But if our oceans are getting clogged up with plastic, causing a whole host of environmental ramifications, and plastic bottles are a major contributing factor to this, the explanation Taylor gives suddenly doesn’t sound quite so forgiving considering the amount of these bottles that must get blown or lost overboard. It calls into question whether the yachting industry has an opportunity to use better filtration systems to prove clean drinking water rather than the mountains of plastic and air freight used to ship bottled water around the world to yachts.

"With today’s technology, there is no logical reason why any boater should be without effective on board water purification equipment."

Speaking to Dometic Marine’s national account manager, Joe Pinto, agrees that there is something to be done. “It is no surprise that the sales of bottled water was up 30 per cent over last year’s figures,” he says. “This confirms the ongoing trend of the public’s continually increasing recognition of the need for pure water meant for human consumption and for other applications. Unfortunately, inappropriately discarded plastic bottles evidences the fact that our society has not effectively addressed the methods by which purified water is being provided to the public. Increased usage of on board water purification equipment would certainly lend itself to reducing plastic materials being discarded at sea, and at the same time would reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the need for plastic water containers.

“More and more superyacht builders are responding to the growing demand from the marketplace by incorporating relatively sophisticated fresh water and seawater reverse osmosis water purification systems on their vessels. By doing this, these builders are able to assure their clients that they will be consuming purified water virtually anywhere in the world. With today’s technology, there is no logical reason why any boater should be without effective on board water purification equipment.”

Combining the technology and systems available in the industry with increased initiatives on yachts to use less bottled water, crew could be making a significant impact towards reducing the amount of plastic water bottles that end up in the ocean from the maritime industry. If readers would like to share any opinions or similar initiatives that they have experienced in the industry, please join out debate on the topic by clicking here.

*Source: Environment 911