As part of their ongoing mission to support sustainability in the dive industry, The Reef-World Foundation and Blue Ocean Network are conducting a primary ‘Green Gear’ survey of dive and photo gear manufacturers at the DEMA Show 2019. DEMA Show is the perfect place to find out about new products, but it’s also the best venue to discover what established brands are doing to reduce their environmental footprint, and take single use plastic packaging out of the supply chain (and the ocean).
The purpose of the Green Gear survey is to help manufacturers and their retail buyers overcome some of the road blocks faced when moving from standard dive gear products to more sustainable offerings. Survey results will be shared publicly in future articles and press releases to help all of the industry make the switch. The Green Gear Survey had a pre-DEMA launch involving initial primary interviews with both manufacturers and dive retailers. Thus far, the intel provided has been insightful.
Case in point is the Clam Shell.
For those who are not familiar with the term, clam shell packing consists of a virtually tamper-proof plastic dome with carded backing that encapsulates an item to maintain product integrity until customer purchase. And while it serves a valuable purpose to protect the product from dirt and destruction on its way to a diver’s gear bag, a clam shell creates instant non-recyclable plastic as soon as the package is opened.
Clam shell packaging is a recycling nightmare. Why do we use it? Green Gear Survey responses vary. Firstly, manufacturers have contracts in place with packagers and the cost to get out of one contract to a more sustainable packager can be onerous, but this situation is temporary, lasting only as long as the contract. The second issue is demand. There are several manufacturers who say no demand exists to warrant changing how they produce and package their products. (Industry buy-in for Mission2020 indicates a clear demand.) The third issue is cost. How does one stay within profitable margins when moving from the ubiquitous plastic clam shell to alternative sustainably-sourced packaging? (Good News: This is already being investigated by manufacturers leading the sustainability charge.)
But there’s more.
One established manufacturer that sells to large recreational retailer chains interviewed in a Green Gear Survey said that clam shells are required by the purchase order agreement: Plastic clam shells stop theft on the big store floor. There’s also the ‘Seeing It Sells it’ study that shows the big advantage of clam shells in product marketing. But several smaller retailers hold a different view: Clam shell packaging is essential to keep mice (who love the smell of silicon in the morning) from eating masks before the product ever gets on the shelf.
Other retailers are admittedly lazy: They don’t want to change their display racks or backroom storage to accommodate new types of packaging. Sometimes clam shells simply can’t be avoided: Freight in shipping containers from certain countries is frequently disinfected using toxic fumigants to protect the inbound port from the spread of alien species. Clam shells do the job in keeping toxic compounds away from products we wear close to the skin, like masks and snorkels. (Good to know!)
Life of the Product.
Still other retailers look past the single-use plastic packaging, preferring to buy quality gear (even though it is packaged in non-recylable plastic). Rather than sell their customer a poor quality mask set (and fast trash) that will undermine consumer trust, these retailers prefer to provide high quality gear (still wrapped in a clam shell) that will easily withstand the test of diver wear and tear.
More than ever, dive retailers and dive operators are looking for alternatives. They are talking to their gear reps about their needs and finding gear manufacturers who are amenable to changing their packaging to reduce single use impact. These B-to-C’s have already been talking sustainability to their consumers – from eco-friendly trips, to sustainable water bottles, to responsible diving awareness. Now their customers are expecting greener alternatives. A virtuous loop is forming in real time.
The clam shell and the rebirth of business.
The clam shell is a poster child for the multiple perspectives we must consider if we are to adequately address sustainability in all parts of our business. The pressure is mounting for all industry members to level up and align with consumer demands for more sustainable dive offerings, period. If we don’t get onboard with ocean-friendly products, our industry will die. Sustainability offers a rebirth for our businesses.
We do business in an eco-system.
Clam shell packaging is just one issue of many in a multi-stakeholder industry that is inextricably linked to its parts and inherently reliant on the ocean as a business partner. Ecosystem thinking can help create value for the industry that is more than the sum of its parts for each member. Ecosystem thinking is the mindset that helps a company face challenges it cannot handle alone: a business can reach out into its ecosystem to work together with partners, other stakeholders and even its customers to address the issue and discover opportunities.
Competitors or not, we are all in this together.
If we are to have a future for this industry, we must be open to asking honest questions about how we do business and how we can make our industry ecosystem stronger. Questions like…
What are liveaboards doing to reduce their impact? What are resorts doing to support their guests in more sustainable dive vacations? What are operators doing to protect the reefs they rely on for their revenues? What are instructors and training agencies teaching their new divers to prepare them for diving experiences that are sustainable? What are retailers doing to reduce the waste inherent in running a product-intensive business? How are high-end, multi-vacation, gear-rich travelers – such as photographers and videographers – being guided so that their passion doesn’t destroy the reef or inadvertently encourage brands to continue business as usual?
Answers to these deeper questions are now available.
Two free seminars are being offered to industry pros at DEMA Show 2019 (Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, 13-16 November 2019). Presented by The Reef-World Foundation, the “Unleash Your Potential with Ocean Conscious Business Models” seminars will explain what an ocean-conscious approach is and how this will help businesses across the dive sector thrive; helping business owners to unlock countless scalable opportunities by giving eco-minded consumers what they want.
Attendees will leave knowing:
How to plan ocean-conscious dive trips; Where to find manufacturers that are reducing plastic packaging; Who produces innovative green dive gear; How to minimize environmental impact from divers and underwater photographers. Attendees can weigh in on their favorite green gear manufacturers and discuss ways to encourage traditional manufacturers to green their gear. Attendees will gain priceless competitor insights and learn what works and what doesn’t when facing certain sustainability obstacles.
Seminars are open to all DEMA Attendees and Exhibitors and will be running at two different time slots during the DEMA Show:
- Thursday, November 14, 2019: 9:00 AM – 10:45 AM – Room: W304D, Sponsored by Explorer Ventures and Fourth Element
- Friday, November 15, 2019: 9:00 AM – 10:45 AM – Room: W304G, Sponsored by Paralenz and Worldwide Dive and Sail International Ltd
Free resources, support and take-aways
At the event, Reef-World will be launching the industry led Ocean Conscious Suppliers list, and attendees will be asked to contribute to this shared resource. Attendees will also receive free Green Fins guides to get started on their sustainability journey as well as learning more about networks and initiatives, such as Mission2020, where the industry is rallying together to make faster progress for a more ocean-friendly industry.
For those who can’t attend:
If you can’t make either of the seminars but are interested in receiving the Green Fins guides and materials, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.To find out more about the Green Gear Survey please email Laurie@BlueOcean.net
About The Reef-World Foundation: Reef-World leads the global implementation of the UN Environment’s Green Fins initiative, which focuses on driving environmentally friendly scuba diving and snorkeling practices across the industry globally. Reef-World provides sustainable diving events at ADEX Singapore and is in its second year providing seminars at the DEMA Show. Visit www.reef-world.org
About Green Fins: In partnership with the UN Environment The Reef-World Foundation spearheads Green Fins – a proven conservation management approach which leads to a measurable reduction in the negative environmental impacts associated with the marine tourism industry. It provides the only internationally recognised environmental standards for the diving and snorkeling industry and has a robust assessment system to measure compliance. Currently, 11 dive destinations have adopted Green Fins, including more than 600 dive operators. Visit https://www.greenfins.net/
About Blue Ocean Network is a news site and online community of ocean citizens involved in the arts, marine science, conservation and business. With a background in sustainable marine tourism and social entrepreneurism, Blue Ocean Network helps its members embrace the resilient mindset of the ocean changemaker through member-driven articles, educational events and ocean updates. Blue Ocean Network has been supporting and partnering with the Reef-World Foundation to bring sustainability education to businesses involved in coral reef-based dive and snorkel tourism.
The DEMA Show is produced by DEMA, the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, an international organization dedicated to the promotion and growth of the recreational scuba diving and snorkeling industry. With more than 1,300 members, this non-profit, global organization promotes scuba diving through consumer awareness programs and media campaigns. For more information on DEMA and affiliated programs contact (800) 862-DIVE (3483) or (858) 616-6408. To register for DEMA Show 2019 visit DEMAShow.com.
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