Green Operation onboard - Hurtigruten goes in for sustainability


Norwegian Hurtigruten have been delivering experiences and relaxation to happy travellers for almost 125 years. As a provider of “The most beautiful sea voyage in the world” along the Norwegian coast and Svalbard, and longer adventurous trips to the beautiful coastlines of North-and South America and Antarctica, they have a significant interest in protecting the environment. We meet with Magne Jacobsen, VP Fleet Operations Manager, for a chat about the drive on sustainability and how to achieve sustainability goals. Will green operations become the next big thing in the travel experience industry?

Leave no footprint

While the hotel industry has certifications such as Nordic Swan Ecolabel and Greenkey, there are no such universal standards for ships. Hurtigruten chose to deal with the lack of certifications by themselves, and hope that their drive for sustainability could help Green Operations to become a thing also for “floating hotels”.

A big challenge that ships face is the use of fuel. This year, Hurtigruten adds the worlds first hybrid ship to their fleet, MS Roald Amundsen. Amundsen is the first of two planned hybrid ships that have 20% less fuel consumption and CO2 emissions than regular ships. But this is not enough, and all ships must contribute to the environmental initiative. During 2018, projects are launched to reduce consumption and waste on all ships. "Leave no footprint" they call it, and as the largest operator in the Arctic, they take their responsibility seriously.

Enthusiasts and management must cooperate

Magne has a background in hotel chains like Nordic Choice Hotels and Scandic and knows how to get staff and management to work effectively towards the same goal. The biggest challenge is, according to Magne, "detail versus big".

There are costs linked to reducing consumption. One goal is to replace plastic cups with glasses in the cabins, which means significant logistical changes, including higher personnel costs. Also; Fleece is to be removed from all stores, and products in stores are not to have unnecessary plastic packaging. This entails significant changes in the supply chain. One needs to find a balance in being cost effective while thinking about the environment, and it's all about everyone working towards the same goal; "If you can be united, then the result will be good", Magne says.

It is not just cost managers who need to put extra effort into keeping environmental work; it also requires additional commitment from the staff on the ships. Magne gives us an example of trying to quit using plastic sticks for stirring cocktails in the bar. It is an easy way to reduce site consumption, but it requires a new way of working for bartenders who have to wash sticks between each guest, instead of throwing and taking a new one.

One important reason why the project has been able to get started efficiently on ships is employees who are passionate about the environment. One of the sustainability enthusiasts, Helga, is a former biologist. Helga has launched a commitment to lecturing on plastic, which is intended to involve both staff, management and guests to see their responsibility in the sustainable work. Guests can easily contribute by choosing the "Green Stay" option, which means fewer visits by cabin crew and the result will be a reduction of supplies such as soap, towels and plastic cups.

To start easily

One way to begin their sustainability work is to start weighing damages; measuring purchases and consumption of things that affect the environment. In a digital project, Hurtigruten, using digital tools, will get a starting point by measuring key figures such as plastic waste, paper waste, food waste, energy consumption and shipments at a detailed level on each ship. With the help of measuring daily, staff can set goals to start reducing consumption. At the same time, management can work in the same tool and ensure that purchases also are reduced.

Together with Magne, we are working on making it easier to measure essential data - with the goal of making it easier to reduce usage.

We have an ongoing initiative to create a simple checklist that breaks down activities to environmental goals that can be realized.

To learn more about how you can extend your sustainability efforts, get in touch with us!