For many, landfill is a convenient and final waste management solution for materials that tend to hang around longer than we wish they would. But for some tourism operators, diverting waste from landfill was the only option for a sustainable future – and it meant getting creative. The waste series ‘Lay Waste to Landfill’ explores the outstanding innovations from our ECO certified operators who go above and beyond to turn their waste management systems into a force for good.
For Kate at Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours, cutting out plastic was a no-brainer. Kate has always felt that the sale of water from single-use plastic bottles was unnecessary, and as one of the owners of an Advanced Ecotourism certified and Hall of Fame member business, plastic water bottles completely go against her philosophy.
Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours’ prime location in the Sunshine Coast region of Queensland gives them incredible access to some of the state’s most captivating marine wildlife. Strategically timing their cruises to minimise their environmental impact, Cruise Maroochy’s educational journeys broaden their customers’ appreciation for the natural environment with in-depth commentary throughout each cruise.
As important as it was for Kate to remove the ever-present plastic water bottles from her business, the solution was not so straightforward. Her determination to find a material and design that was both practical and easily recyclable was a challenge, as Kate stated, “There are very real problems faced by the manufacturing & recycling industries of all glass, aluminium & plastic materials.” As her search continued, our recycling reality became all the more clear.
While glass is perceived to be one of the more easily recycled materials, its production can mean up to 33% more greenhouse gases are produced than when plastic is produced. Not only do its emissions and the immense energy needed for production outweigh the benefits, but Australia’s glass recycling system does not mean that old bottles will be created into new ones. The contamination of products means new bottles are discoloured and faulty. From a tourist’s perspective, the impracticality of carrying around a delicate, yet heavy, item makes the material unsuitable for replacing plastic bottles.
Finally, Kate landed on a suitable option. Using significantly less energy to produce and being one of the most recyclable materials, aluminium cans are now sold at Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours for guests who are without a water bottle of their own.
“Single-use plastics did not fit with our waste management policy, so we literally canned them,” Kate said.
“We also offer free pouring water available to all of our guests,” Kate added, however when visitors are left with the decision to buy water, they know they are treading lightly on the environment through Cruise Maroochy’s initiative.
Kate practices what she preaches throughout each of Cruise Maroochy’s educational Eco Tours, seeing an appreciation from her customers for her uncomplicated commitment to sustainability.
“Customers are quick to pick up on our authenticity and compliment us on this.”
Now, what she calls for is people to continue to educate themselves on the state of Australia’s recycling industry beyond a Cruise Maroochy Eco Tour, as she recognises a lack of awareness around how our waste is used after we throw it away to be dangerous. People pressure, she says, is driving intelligent companies to conduct valuable market research into what consumers value – and that’s wastes reduction.
“So, keep the pressure up people – always.”
Do you have a novel waste management solution that stands out amongst the rest? Let us know at [email protected] to be featured in our ‘Lay Waste to Landfill’ series.
All images courtesy of Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours