Piano di Sorrento, Italy (November 5, 2020)
- You Know!, the first online platform offering the best boat tours and experiences, on the heels of the You Know! Green Echo project, and its commitment to building a sustainable business model, announced today that it has been awarded the Grade C Plastic Free Company Certification. The Certification recognizes You Know!'s commitment to reconsidering the use and impact of plastic materials, finding viable alternatives, and enhancing its environmental commitment.
The certification process is based on an innovative Standard that defines certification procedures and reflects the requirements of EU Directive 2019/904 on single-use plastics. The ultimate goal is the total elimination of inorganic single-use plastics from all manufacturing processes.
Most of the plastic we use on a daily basis is not totally biodegradable or compostable. It means that it does not deteriorate and remains in the environment for thousands of years. In the environment, or more accurately, in our oceans and seas. We need to keep a few facts in mind to fully understand the importance of the oceans, and why it is critical for us to protect them. It only takes a few numbers:
- 99% of the biosphere is found in the oceans.
- One out of every two breaths is generated by the oceans.
- More than seven-tenths of the Earth's surface is occupied by sea.
- The largest living structure on Earth is found in the oceans: the Great Barrier Reef.
- 2 people have walked on the moon, but only 3 have penetrated the greatest ocean depths.
- Every year, 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans - enough to circle the Earth more than 400 times. There's more plastic in our oceans than there are stars in our galaxy.
- It is estimated that by 2050, the oceans may contain more plastic than fish.
- Since 1950, 90% of the largest fish species have disappeared.
- Plastic has been found in the bodies of 90% of the world's seabirds and more than half of the world's sea turtles.
8 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans each year. Ocean currents have formed five giant, slow-moving eddies where plastic collects, eventually creating veritable "plastic islands," the most infamous of which is the one in the Pacific, the Pacific Trash Vortex. Most plastic debris sinks or remains in the vortex, but a significant percentage of it washes up on our shores, beaches, and even our tables on a daily basis. In fact, part of the plastic is photodegraded, i.e. disintegrated by the effect of light, into tiny fragments that are ingested by marine organisms which mistake them for plankton, damaging the internal organs of fish and the health of anyone who eats them.
A critical scenario created by centuries of indifference and irresponsible consumption. It will take time, creativity, hard work and collaboration to turn things around. No one can solve this problem alone. The responsibility lies with industries, followed by big brands, environmentalists, and finally consumers.
During 2020, You Know! began an intensive journey to redesign the packaging and products offered on board. Single-use plastic products have been replaced with products made from PLA (Polylactic Acid): an innovative bioplastic, obtained by processing sugars found in corn, beet, sugar cane and other non-petroleum derived organic materials. Bioplastic is biodegradable and compostable and, unlike commonly used plastics that have an average life that can vary from 100 up to 1000 years, PLA instead has a much shorter biodegradation time: once the necessary temperature and humidity conditions are reached, it has an average life varying from 1 to 4 years.
Reducing single-use plastics has been accompanied by a sustainability training and awareness program for all operations teams on more sustainable practices such as reuse, recycling and the use and impact of plastic materials.
To date, You Know! has reduced the consumption of disposable plastic by 70%, and for this reason it has obtained the certification of a Grade C Plastic Free company, a process that included 5 steps:
Assessment of the presence of single-use plastics in the company - Plastic assessment
Identification of performance indicators - KPIs
Development of a Plastic Reduction Plan
The next step involves the total elimination of single-use plastic packaging from the production chain, for products purchased from suppliers and that by 2023, 100% of plastic materials will be reusable, recyclable or compostable.