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The organizations will leverage their expertise in ocean plastics recycling and certification to encourage more responsible sourcing and focus on helping grow the ethically sourced ocean-bound plastics market.

UL, global safety science leader, on June 7 announced its collaboration with OceanCycle, a social enterprise focusing on reducing ocean plastic pollution, on new elevated standards and ethical sourcing criteria for ocean-bound plastics.

These strengthened industry standards include critical new social standards, ethical sourcing criteria, third-party, independent validation of all recycled ocean-bound plastics, clear definitions of ocean-bound materials and standards on where coastal collection should happen.

Dr. Bill Hoffman, senior scientist at UL, believed the “collaboration with OceanCycle will help bring greater clarity around what should be ocean and ocean-bound plastics. It’s our intent that this clarity around ocean and ocean-bound plastics will lead to more trust for brands and consumers and focus the world’s attention on regions most at risk for ocean plastic pollution.”

These new elevated standards and ethical sourcing criteria come after two years of close collaboration between UL and OceanCycle to build on each company’s initial standards for ocean-bound materials to help counter greenwashing in the industry.

UL and OceanCycle will continue collaborating to drive dialogue on standards and encourage the industry to agree on common definitions and processes — similar to what the Association of Plastic Recyclers achieved for post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics.

The companies will leverage their expertise in ocean plastics recycling and certification to encourage more responsible sourcing, focus efforts and resources on countries and coastal regions most at-risk for ocean plastic pollution, and grow the ethically sourced ocean-bound plastics market.

While it will take time to establish these new standards, they can immediately serve as a guidepost for brands and companies looking to integrate ethically sourced, ocean-bound plastics into their supply chains and products.

Standards for recycled ocean-bound plastics promote real transparency, traceability and accountability for real change. The UL and OceanCycle’s collaboration has resulted in an alignment of standards, providing a 100% independent, third-party certification of ocean-bound plastics’ recycling supply chains to help ensure that standards meet international quality, ethical, environmental and labor requirements.

Purchasers of OceanCycle Certified™ (OCC) materials have end-to-end traceability, from bottle collection through manufacturing.

OceanCycle also partners with local recyclers to elevate the well-being and livelihoods of the people collecting material in communities. The social audits and surveys help baseline income levels and community needs and give insights to the recyclers, material brokers and brand partners on meeting those needs.

In many cases, the people collecting the material are the most vulnerable. However, with proper support, they can collect more material in a better manner that both improves incomes and increases recycling rates.

As recycling rates and quality improve, it helps recyclers deliver large volumes of OCC material to manufacturers for use in new products. The manufacturers’ positive experiences in sourcing OCC plastics drive consistent demand that keeps recycling programs operating.

Looking ahead, OceanCycle will work with UL and other industry leaders to help ensure recognition of and adherence to these new standards. The group will collaborate to improve market access to products made from ocean-bound plastics, assisting companies in using more sustainable, responsibly-sourced, recycled materials in their products.

Alistair Hackett, managing director of Ocean Safety, talks about the risks of a cost-conscious industry and how sailors need to make safety their real priority.

The last two years have been turbulent for the marine safety arena – as it has for many industries – however the future is positive, according to Hackett. “The core principle of the business has always been to supply knowledge, advice, solve problems for customers and provide top-of-the-range safety equipment. We must never become ‘box shifters’ of average quality product – there is too much average quality product in our industry,” warns Hackett.

“Like everything in the world, safety equipment has become more and more cost conscious,” he explains. “While the standards of regulation are constantly improving – which is a great thing – what we are finding is that more people are wanting to build product to the lowest cost possible that meets the regulation. And whilst in some areas of the industry there is a definite market for that, this is safety equipment that we’re talking about. We should be in a position as an industry where we constantly strive to make sure that all of the kit that the industry supplies to individuals is to the very best of its ability, the highest standard that can possibly be used afloat.

“So you constantly have this battle within industry of what’s cheapest but ticks the box and what is actually best suited for the environment it’s going to be used in. And bear in mind that we are dealing with product that’s very, very rarely used.

“Don’t get me wrong. You are far better to have the equipment than no equipment at all – everybody has to tailor the budget to their own desires,” Hackett says.

While sailors can ‘tick the box’ and physically have the required equipment on board to enter a race, regatta or event, is it the best their budget allows for? And, crucially, have they spent the time understanding the equipment and does all the crew know how to utilise it effectively?

Hackett (pictured left) – and many marine safety experts – warn of the risks of consumer complacency whereby the public never believe an emergency afloat will happen to them. While the vast majority of sailors will cite safety as top of their priority list on board, Hackett says in reality the time spent learning about safety products, how to store, use and deploy them doesn’t reflect this.

“I’ve had lots of discussions with people undertaking the Fastnet race, entering high-end yacht races or families who are going off on some sort of major bluewater trip and when you talk to them about safety, they’ll say it’s right at the top. And yet, in reality, if they’ve just spent £25,000 on new sails and £15,000 on safety equipment, I can guarantee you that the crew will spend far more time trying to learn how to use their new sails to make the yacht go faster than they will do practicing man overboard and other safety drills.”

“That’s again where it falls into the ‘it won’t happen to me’ bracket. And so you end up in this scenario where you are constantly trying to persuade people to take as much interest in maritime safety as they possibly can because you have to make sure that they understand that it might just be them who crashes into a container in the middle of Christchurch Bay and the boat sinks in two minutes. And when that happens, that is not the time to start learning how your safety kit works.”

Hackett speaks from realms of experience – after sailing and racing all his early life, he got fully involved in the offshore marine industry in 1990 when he started work for Chay Blyth’s The Challenge Business, and went on to become logistics director for all four Global Challenge events, which lead to working with the team responsible for 51 circumnavigations over a 16-year period. In the role, he worked closely with Ocean Safety as the events principle safety supplier, which led to a natural progression into the marine safety industry in 2006. A member of the RORC Special Regulations Committee, he also sits on the World Sailing Safety Committee and during his time at Ocean Safety, Hackett has managed the safety training for the last four Volvo Ocean Races.

“It’s really important that people have a desire to want to learn how their safety equipment all works, which is why things like a sea survival training courses are so important and why talking to people is so critical.

“Buying the equipment is ten per cent of the story. The owner and everybody in the crew has to understand how that equipment works, when to use it, what are the implications of using it, and so on.”

Despite safety equipment rarely being used onboard, Hackett believes: “It’s incumbent on the industry that we all push as hard as we can to make sure that people understand the intricacies of using safety equipment. Because when we do have to use it, that is not the time to start reading the instructions. You’ve got to understand it right from the get go.”

To move things forward and increase consumer awareness and maritime safety onboard, Hackett says more discussion and more practice is needed. He cites the RYA and RNLI’s ‘useless unless worn’ lifejacket campaign as a hugely successful message that changed attitudes towards lifejackets.

“[The campaign] was just unbelievable and has transformed attitudes. Interaction with the products has just gone through the roof along with people’s understanding of lifejackets and what they can do for individuals. Couple that with event organisers and regulatory bodies stating, ‘right, you must wear a lifejacket to do this or you must have lifejackets to do that’, and all of a sudden the industry has seen a massive increase [in lifejacket use on the water]. And also a massive improvement in the design of the product – because if people have to wear lifejackets they want them to be comfortable and to look half decent. And secondly, because the rules say that they have to have them and they have to wear them in certain conditions it puts them in a position whereby they think okay, well if I’ve got this thing I’ve got to wear it what do I have to do with it? How do I use it? When do I use it? How will it integrate with my integral AIS unit that was built into it? So it just promotes this discussion and advancement.

“We need to make sure that there are campaigns like that constantly running so that people understand what’s involved in maritime safety,” he adds.

Hackett says the leisure sector has some great opportunities as end users become more interested in their need for safety equipment. Developments in lifejacket technology will continue and how they integrate with more MOB electronics is coming to the fore. “As such a personal lifejacket will become more technical in design and use. The need to always produce smaller and lighter products will always be there so looking at new fabrics for liferafts and so on will continue. In addition, it is important that customers always get value for money so looking at extended periods of service for equipment is an interesting area however it is often difficult to justify due to the environment the equipment is stored in.

“Like most industries, protecting the environment is important and the inflatable products we use nearly all use large volumes of CO2 to inflate them and the fabrics are mainly polymer-based. Working towards ‘cleaner’ products will always be at the forefront of development going forward.”

Maritime training provider Stream Marine Training (SMT) and Intelligent Seas Group (ISG) have joined forces to offer advanced standards of training, certification, and watchkeeping (STCW) and Flag State approved eLearning courses.

This collaboration amalgamates the experience from both companies to provide interactive and engaging technology that will allow seafarers to learn and develop their skills anywhere in the world.

SMT holds practical courses onsite at its base in Glasgow, as well as webinar courses online and, in partnership with ISG, has added eLearning courses to the portfolio, which can be completed at a time that suits the individual.

Due to the nature of a career at sea, finding time to train and update skills can be difficult, therefore ISG has created a blend of bespoke training which can be completed at any time. The courses are approved by the STCW and other relevant organising bodies and can be tailored depending on the needs of the client. Both SMT and ISG have extensive knowledge in the maritime industry.

Group operations director at SMT, Katy Womersley said: “This collaboration will allow seafarers to advance their skills with the use of up-to-date technology which is interactive and interesting. Through training online, in their own time, seafarers and shipping companies will be able to mitigate travel and accommodation costs and focus on developing their skills in a comfortable environment.”

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has published a shipping circular  on the implementation of SOLAS Regulation VI/2 on verified gross mass of containers with the purpose to to establish a common approach for the implementation and enforcement of the SOLAS requirements regarding the verification of the gross mass of packed containers.


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