2018-05-10 / Around Town

‘Sustainable’ Stopover Protects Environment

/By Rob Duca/


Water pollution 
Shutterstock/Volvo Ocean Race Water pollution Shutterstock/Volvo Ocean Race According to a sustainability report released following the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race Newport stopover, more than 1,500 pounds of trash was removed before the boats arrived, more than 1,100 pounds of seagrass was planted to offset 700 tons of C02 and 23,000 less pounds of trash went to landfill.

“We developed a program [in 2015] that had a 60-percent diversion rate for recycling and compost versus just going to the landfill,” said Brad Read, CEO and president of Sail Newport.

Organizers of the 2018 stopover are hoping for similar results this time. If they could script the 13 days of the event, carpooling, walking, biking or taking water taxis would be everyone’s mode of transportation, while all trash would be recycled in marked receptacles and all attendees would bring reusable water bottles.

As a result of Newport’s initiative in 2015, the VOR incorporated a sustainability plan as a requirement for all 12 stopovers in 2017- 18. “It’s great to see the progress that’s been made. You can fairly ask the question if it would be this way if not for the Newport stopover in 2015,” said Dave McLaughlin, co-chair of the Sustainability Committee for the 2018 Newport stopover.

Organizers are asking local residents, business owners and community groups to sign the “Clean Seas pledge,” which was launched in February 2017 by the United Nations Environmental Program with the goal of eliminating marine plastic litter.

Signing the pledge could range from making a commitment to using products with less plastic packaging or avoiding products with microbeads to supplying your own takeout containers. Individuals or businesses can sign the pledge by visiting volvooceanracenewport.com and clicking on the “sustainability” tab.


Councilwoman, Kate Leonard looks on as her fellow councilor Jeane Marie Napolitano signs the Clean Seas pledge at a recent Newport City Council meeting. Councilwoman, Kate Leonard looks on as her fellow councilor Jeane Marie Napolitano signs the Clean Seas pledge at a recent Newport City Council meeting. The stopover’s sustainability plan will include a commitment to reduce fuel consumption through the use of bio-diesel on the sailboats, shuttles and vessels that transport visitors to the event. Organizers have worked with public transportation to run more buses. And of the 120 containers that were trucked in to build the village, approximately 90 will be removed from the state pier and placed on a barge for the journey to the next stopover in Cardiff, Wales, thus further reducing the carbon footprint from the event.

In addition, the event will have approximately 20 water-filling stations as organizers seek to encourage visitors to bring reusable water bottles. The ultimate goal of the sustainability plan, McLaughlin said, is to increase awareness regarding plastic pollution of the ocean, minimize the event’s emissions footprint and avoid the use of single-use plastics. “When people come to the [Newport stopover], they will be part of the experience of sustainability,” he said. “We hope they will realize that, one, it’s fun, and two, it really makes a difference. We want to hold the most sustainable event possible and educate the public about ocean health and environmental stewardship.”


Mayor Harry Winthrop, center, was joined by the council in taking the Clean Seas pledge. 
Photos courtesy of Clean Ocean Access Mayor Harry Winthrop, center, was joined by the council in taking the Clean Seas pledge. Photos courtesy of Clean Ocean Access DID YOU KNOW?

Single-use plastics such as water bottles and straws are banned from the Race Village as part of a local and global sustainability commitment. Visitors to the Race Village are encouraged to refill reusable water bottles at water purification stations provided by Sweden-based Bluewater.

Visit: www.cleanseas.org/get-informed to learn more about ocean plastic.

During the Volvo Ocean Race, Ocean Summits on sustainability take place at stopovers. The Newport Ocean Summit is Friday, May 18, at the Volvo Pavilion, Fort Adams State Park. “The first Ocean Summit was held in 2015 when the Race was last in Newport,” said Kim Cooper of Sail Newport. “With many of the same speakers and some new ones, reporting on how we are doing in combatting marine debris, and coming up with solutions for ocean pollution. We are very, very proud of our ocean exploration zone.” Upcoming Ocean Summits are scheduled for Cardiff on June 5; Gothenburg on June 18; and The Hague in June 28 and 29.

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