BC Ferries wants green programs ‘greener’

BC Ferries hopes its employees will contribute to improvements the company hopes to see in its existing environmental programs.

The Spirit of Vancouver Island.

BC Ferries hopes its employees will contribute to improvements the company hopes to see in its existing environmental programs.

Called SeaForward, BC Ferries launched the initiative on Nov. 1 — taking existing environmental activities and engaging their employees to support improvements and spread the word to the coastal communities they serve.

Corrine Storey, Ferries’ vice-president of customer services is leading SeaForward and says it’s designed to engage their employees in the three pillars of the program: sustainable operations, conservation and community well being.

In its first year, SeaForward will focus on three areas: increasing composting and recycling on its vessels and terminals, better track whale sightings and have employees actively participate in the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up. This year, Storey said around 190 Ferries employees took part in the annual Clean-up.

Focussing on recycling and composting efforts, Storey said they are looking at ways to reduce cross contamination with other garbage.

“Employees will be monitoring recycling activity and asking about what works and what doesn’t.”

Storey said Ferries will be improving signage on recycling bins, to hopefully have passengers better understand where things are to be disposed of.

New signs are going up at Swartz Bay in North Saanich and on vessels, using pictures to illustrate the containers and hopefully improving the cross-contamination issue.

A composting pilot project is also under way on the Spirit of Vancouver Island, said Storey. It will work in conjunction with efforts at Swartz Bay to get more customers to use compost bins — and again reduce cross-contamination with other garbage. If it works, Storey said it could be implemented on all BC Ferries’ vessels.

Currently, all BC Ferries vessels report whale sightings while operating around the southern Gulf Islands and Inside Passage. SeaForward will see them work with the BC Cetacean Sightings Network. Basically, Storey said they will turn over more information on whale sightings in the area.

She added customers of BC Ferries should expect to see more of its employees involved in environmental initiatives as SeaForward takes shape.