Working together to save the oceans

Richard Orme

Working together to save the oceans

Richard Orme

Purpose

Working together to save the oceans

Richard Orme explains why he was compelled to create positive change in the superyacht industry with the Clear Ocean Pact.

By Dominique Afacan | 18 December 2018

Richard Orme is passionate about the oceans. That shouldn’t be a surprise. His career has revolved around the water, after all, from his early days as a deckhand to management and brokerage positions further down the line. All of those years of experience have left him in an unusual position; filled to the brim with broad-ranging industry insights and with an enviable contacts book to boot. On retirement earlier this year, he decided it was time to put it all to good use.

“It made sense to me that if I wasn’t working in yachting anymore, I should be doing something to give back to it,” he says. He’d been made aware of the plastic pollution problem many years ago when he helped a client on the PLASTIKI Expedition project, building a 60-foot catamaran out of 12,500 reclaimed plastic water bottles. “The boat sailed 8000 nautical miles, from San Francisco to Sydney to raise awareness,” he explains. “It was back in 2009 and there was no real knowledge of it back then.”

Working together to save the oceans

The Plastiki: a catamaran built from 12,500 plastic bottles. Image: The Plastiki Expedition

Working together to save the oceans

The Plastiki: a catamaran built from 12,500 plastic bottles. Image: The Plastiki Expedition

Fast-forward to today – and there has been an enormous increase in the number of initiatives set up to create change – and media coverage around plastic pollution has soared. “I read in a lot of outlets that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish,” says Orme. With two young children to think about, it rang alarm bells. “I said to myself, ‘there’s no way my kids can live like that’ – that was the turning point for me. I can’t be in the position I am now where I have the ability to make a change and not do anything.” The Clear Ocean Pact was born, created to encourage positive change via a united effort across the industry.

It seems to have struck a chord – with more than 20 yachts already signed up since the launch just a month ago. “The pact is good and simple – it doesn’t force anybody to do anything, it just offers up changes to adopt,” says Orme. Those changes range from reducing single-use toiletries on board to filtering and safely disposing of all washing machine microplastic waste. “People are really engaging with it,” says Orme. “I’ve not had one negative piece of feedback.”

Working together to save the oceans
Working together to save the oceans

To be fair, the facts and figures would make negative feedback very difficult. Every 100 wash cycles on board discharges up to 100g on microplastic into the ocean. Meanwhile, the average superyacht consumes thousands of plastic bottles a year. Switching to an onboard solution would be a quick-fire way to prevent 300kgs of plastic waste. What’s not to like?

The results of the pact will be far-reaching, no doubt about that, but for Orme, there will be benefits closer to home, too.  He and his family live down in Poole and are often out in their day boat in Poole Harbour. “We go for dog walks on the beach all the time,” says Orme. “For years we walked over the rubbish but now we pick up plastic while we are there. We are engaging with it, as are our children who are 11 and 14.” A half-hour dog walk will often result in the family picking up a hundred or so pieces of plastic. On a blue flag beach, that speaks volumes.

Working together to save the oceans
Working together to save the oceans

Outside of the industry, Orme looks to the likes of David Attenborough and Prince Charles as inspirations in the environmental worlds. Record-breaking sailor Ellen McArthur, too, has been a motivating influence. “What she has done with the circular economy is fantastic,” says Orme, referring to her foundation’s pledge to move towards a restorative and regenerative society.

Orme now has a busy year ahead as he strives to reach his goal of 1000 signed up yachts by 2020. “It’s very rewarding on a personal level to put effort into something that is going to have a great impact,” says Orme. “We are educating our children that this sort of consumption is not acceptable.” He hopes, too, that there will be a ripple effect as a result of the pact. “People don’t realise the buying power we have as an industry – we are small but one yacht can ignite a reaction that extends to suppliers, crew, shore-based personnel, manufacturers and beyond.”

Sign up for updates




Do you work in the superyacht industry? YesNo
I would like to receive updates from Superyacht Life