AECO’S Clean Seas Project

The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) is working to combat marine plastic pollution. As part of these efforts, AECO is working to drastically cut back on single-use plastics on Arctic expedition cruise vessels, as well as enhance cruise passengers’ involvement in regular beach cleanups. AECO is also focus on educating passengers, staff and the public on what can be done to prevent marine plastic pollution.

Reduction of single-use plastics

AECO is working to reduce the use of single use-plastics and other disposable items on vessels.  The first step is to assess the amount of single-use items that are currently in use on board. AECO is researching more sustainable alternatives and solutions that can be implemented on ships.

Plastic reduction guidelines

Clean Seas Guidelines for Visitors to the Arctic provide travelers with information on responsible solutions to reducing their waste and plastic footprint before, during and after their trip.

Cleanup efforts

Members of AECO have been involved in beach cleanups in the Arctic for almost two decades. Through AECO’s Clean Seas Project, AECO will strengthen these efforts.

AECO’s Cleanup Guidelines 

AECO’s Cleanup Guidelines provides useful information about Clean up Svalbard and what you can do to help clean Arctic beaches.

Clean Seas Guidelines for Visitors to the Arctic

Clean Seas Guidelines for Visitors to the Arctic provides tips on how to reduce your plastic footprint.

Clean Up Svalbard 

Clean Up Svalbard is a coastal cleanup project organised by the Governor of Svalbard. See the 2023 Clean Up Svalbard information from the Governor of Svalbard for more information.

Photo: Jonathan R. Green, G Adventures
Photo: Pierre Malan, Noble Caledonia
Photo: Sarah Auffret, AECO







Information and education

AECO has signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and will work with UN Environment on the prevention and reduction of marine litter. AECO will contribute to #CleanSeas, a UN-led campaign to combat marine plastic pollution.

Learn more

If you would like to learn more about AECO’s Clean Seas Project and other activities, you can sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media (FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn).

Sharing of best practices

AECO is working to collect, systematize and share best practices to help reduce plastics consumption on expedition cruise ships. Results of this work will be published in due time.

External resources

Below is a collection of useful links on the topic of marine plastic pollution.

UN Environment Clean Seas campaign 

UNEP Report : Single-use plastics: a Road Map for Sustainability

UNEP Report: Biodegradable Plastics & Marine Litter

UNEP Report: Exploring the Potential for Adopting Alternative Materials to Reduce Marine Plastic Litter

GRID Arendal Marine Litter Vital Graphics

Norwegian Polar Institute report Plastic in the European Arctic

Alfred Wegener Institute Map of Litter distribution

Wageningen University & Research Arctic Marine Litter Project 

Get involved

If you plan to visit the Arctic you can contribute to Clean Seas efforts by choosing an operator that is a member of AECO. You can be part of the movement by getting involved in beach cleanups where you live. You can even organize a small scale cleanup with your friends and family or go plogging.

Check out these websites for inspiration and information about cleanups in near you: (Canada)

Beach Clean-up Bingo

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has launched a “Beach Clean-up Bingo” Card on World Oceans Day (June 8), and we are pleased to share this as a Clean Seas activity to get involved in your local community.

The card encourages the user to pick up litter from their local beach by turning the activity into the popular game. It is the latest tool to be released as part of the organization’s Antarctic Ambassadors Project and joint Clean Seas work with northern counterpart the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO).

The downloadable resource has 24 squares, each containing a piece of commonly found beach debris. Users are encouraged to challenge friends and family to find and collect as many of the items as possible to complete a line on the card, four corners or a full house.

Download your bingo card here;

Cleanup for Sarah

Every year since 2019, people around the world carry out cleanup actions in their local environment on June 16, which marks the birthday of Sarah Auffret. Learn more about Cleanup for Sarah here.