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Developing trust and value beyond a word

People often say “we have to think green”, not “we are thinking green"…

A number of more sustainable systems are now available to the superyacht market and while owners, captains, managers and various other stakeholders have started to adopt said technologies, is there still a lack of understanding and trust about these systems and the benefits that they yield on the part of the market? We speak to Environmental Protection Engineering, which has recently launched a superyacht department, to better understand the adoption of sustainable systems in the superyacht world.

“The word sustainability has become infinitely more popular in recent years. It feels strange at times because this is a goal that Environmental Protection Engineering (EPE) has been working towards for more than 40 years. While the commercial markets have been our primary focus, yachting solutions have always been a part of what we offer,” starts Dimitris Avdelopoulos, EPE’s yachting director. “However, as we have developed our superyacht and yacht offerings, we have created a yacht specific department, owing to the nuances and requirements of the sector.”

When Avdelopoulos refers to the nuances of the sector, he is not only talking about the specific regulations that govern the superyacht market, he is talking about the difference in approach that is required within the commercial and yachting worlds. Unlike the commercial sectors, which are far more transactional and focused on efficiencies, where hierarchy and decision makings chains are arguably more established, yachting requires an altogether different approach to sales and relationship building, which can slow the adoption of certain technologies.

Dimitris Avdelopoulos, yachting director at EPE

Unlike in the commercial world, where the owner of a fleet might choose to adopt a particular technology across all their vessels, every sale in the superyacht world requires a unique approach to convince whatever stakeholders are in the decision-making positions. Fortunately, however, the superyacht market, generally speaking, is becoming more willing to listen to the benefits of sustainable solutions and, in some instances, adopt them…at least that is how it seems.

“There is still a long way to go, we are only really at the beginning of the sustainability journey still. People often say ‘we have to think green’, not ‘we are thinking green’. It is seen as something people have to do or something that they might do. There still needs to be a lot of education done to explain the benefits of sustainability beyond just the environment,” continues Avdelopoulos. “We need to start presenting the financial benefits of sustainable choices because these are also important to captains, managers, owners and so on. However, we also need to grow trust in the systems.”

Avdelopoulos provides an example. Working with a partner, EPE has brought to market a freshwater solution that turns seawater into mineral water. Not only does the system reduce the need for plastic bottles on board and, therefore, have a positive impact on the environment, but in the long term the system should have a financial benefit because the crew and guests will no longer be drinking Fiji water or another similar brand. However, there remains a problem.

“The reduction of plastic bottles onboard superyachts should be a no brainer, especially given that the freshwater systems are not just producing clean water, but producing mineral water,” says Avdelopoulos. “However, we know for a fact that a lot of crews do not trust the water systems. They will provide the guests with the water, explaining about the reduction of plastic, but drink bottled water below deck. This shows there is a fundamental lack of trust in the systems and a lack of engagement in the sustainable agenda. We, as an industry, need to get people believing in sustainable systems.”

Part of Avdelopoulos’s role as yachting director will be to not only sell sustainable systems to superyachts but to educate the market and build trust in these systems so that they are working effectively for the superyachts in a financial and environmental sense. The aim must be for people to stop thinking green and to start acting green because they understand the benefits of doing so.

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Developing trust and value beyond a word

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