Summary Brainstrom #2 

Hong Kong - January 27th 2018



Interview with Peter Burling and Carlo Huisman, crewmembers of Team Brunel
Moderators Davy Scheffers and Irene van der Water interviewed Peter Burling and Carlo Huisman, Brunel’s crewmembers in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Both sailors have seen a lot of plastic in the ocean during the race. Peter told that the boats in the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) do what they can to minimize the amount of plastic on board. He referred to Turn the Tide on Plastic, one of the other boats in the race.

Lucy Hunt,  SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION PROGRAMME MANAGER and developer of the Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Education Programme discussed the rapidly growing and critical problem of plastic pollution in the ocean with Team Brunel sailors Peter Burling  and Carlo Huisman. She was curious about what they do about this problem their selves, on board and at home.

Both sailors denied on the question if the VOR can be held plastic-free in the future. Carlo: “A plastic-free VOR is not possible at this stage. We do what we can to avoid plastic on board, but the truth is that all our food is wrapped in plastic. Of course, we store them on board and throw it away on shore. During a cycle-tour last day, we picked up plastic bottles we saw on the road.” Peter admits: “Plastic is one of the biggest pollutions for oceans. But we all use it everywhere. It’s hard to see all the plastics used as food coverage when you are back on shore, after having been on sea and watching all the plastics floating in the water.”

Hong Kong suffers from plastic pollution. Therefore, we choose the theme ‘water quality’ as the theme to discuss during the Brainstorm.
The audience consisted of 15 representatives from business and education, working in Hong Kong, for VOR-host city Hong Kong and in The Netherlands as well.  They did not focus on the technical part of the problem, and neither searched for technical solutions. What they did, was investigate if there are sufficient well-educated students and young professionals to solve the plastic pollution worldwide, in the future. Is this problem mentioned during the education program? And are current traineeships prepared for the future water problems?

Creating awareness
It was mentioned that host cities play an important role in creating awareness for plastic pollution. Such a simple thing as avoiding plastic straws in drinks should not be too difficult to realize. The host city can ask the enterprises for cooperation.

Worldwide just 10-15% of plastics is recycled. This means that shifting plastics from other trash in bins, is just part of the solution. What we should, is reduce plastics in products made. For example, coffee cups; they can easily made from paper instead of plastic. 


We also must realize that consumers are lazy. Most people are not aware of the problem plastics cause. And if they are aware, they don’t know what they can do themselves, beside putting plastics in the right bin. What we must do, is focus on chancing the mentality of people.And that starts best with children. Through them, we can influence their (grand)parents.“If we continue asking awareness, then in the end people will listen”, one of the attendees mentioned. “If everyone asks for ‘no straw’, then in the end it will be clear to the producers that they have to stop making straws”.

Read the whole summery of the 2nd Brainstorm