Tallink Grupp is ramping up its corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy to help minimise its environmental footprint as its Baltic Sea mini-cruise and passenger transport business continues to grow.
A priority for the Estonia headquartered company, which operates vessels sailing under the brands of Tallink and Silja Line, is developing a ‘more coherent’ and ‘clear’ CSR strategy and agreeing group-wide goals to achieve over the next two- to three-years and beyond.
There are four main areas the company has pledged to concentrate on – the sea; the climate (with regards to emissions, but also more widely); resources (including promoting circular economy practices); and looking after its people (customers, staff and communities) – with detailed objectives currently being set for each one.
From helping to raise awareness of green issues to presenting passengers with more sustainable choices in its shops, finding ways to help care for the environment and give back to Baltic Sea communities has naturally come more sharply into focus for Tallink Grupp as its operations have expanded (the company currently operates in six countries and employs over 7,000 staff).
“Sustainability is a cornerstone of our business,” confirmed Piret Mürk-Dubout, Member of the Management Board of Tallink Group AS when TRBusiness sat down with her at Tallink’s office in Estonia prior to the launch event for its latest fast ferry MyStar.
“We care about the Baltic Sea, the resources and the climate. We look at our biggest footprints from our everyday operations and how to be more sustainable, for example, by cutting down on single use plastic [Ed’s note: Beauty miniatures are no longer supplied in the cabins onboard its ships, for instance], and by having more organic and natural product lines within our assortment.”
Launching targeted collaborations with NGOs, tech companies and suppliers play a key role in reaching some of these objectives. One such partnership is with the John Nurminen Foundation in Finland, which Tallink has worked with for many years to support its activities in protecting the biodiversity of the Baltic Sea.
“This year, we are cooperating with them specifically to help raise awareness about the issues the Baltic Sea is facing and to tackle the impact of eutrophication,” said Katri Link, Communications Director and Sustainability Lead at Tallink Grupp.
The group has also pledged to make a donation to the foundation for every Tallink and Silja Line branded water bottle sold on board the its vessels in 2023.
It’s hoped this will raise approximately €20,000 (US$21,374) for the Finland based foundation.
“Bottled water is the number one sales article on board our vessels, although reusable water bottles and simply drinking tap water on board are increasingly popular too,” said Mürk-Dubout.
A call to action message encouraging consumers to recycle is carried both on the bottles and broadcast on board the ships’ digital screens throughout the year.
“We raise vital funds for them so they can work with the regional agricultural sector to reduce the amount of pesticides used and ending up in the Baltic Sea, thus causing damage to its biodiversity,” added Link. “It is our aim to help protect the sea we so heavily depend on as a business as much as possible.”
At a company level, Tallink strives to utilise resources in a sustainable manner and, as referenced above, to promote circular economy practices.
For example, it enlists the creative expertise of Estonian designer Xenia Joost to repurpose bed linen and other fabrics from its vessels and hotels into a fashion collection titled Baltic Sea Blue.
“Changing the mindset and culture of the business to think circular has been a long process, but we are now at a place where every part of the business is thinking: ‘What can I do to reuse and recycle – and how can we do it better?’,” said Link.
“In retail this is more evident in the buying process where we now also look for products that have been produced from recycled materials. As our customers, particularly in the Nordics, are fast shifting towards a more sustainable lifestyle and choices, it is this shift in their buying habits that is also pushing us to evolve and look for products that meet their changing needs.
“In addition to products made from recycled materials, customers also increasingly look for more easily recyclable and reusable products that are sustainably produced,” continued Link.
“Packaging, and the need to make packaging more sustainable, is another area that is increasingly in our focus, so we work closely with our suppliers and producers to try and find ways of reducing packaging, while also making it more eco-friendly.”
A variety of products from small, local producers and sustainable brands feature throughout the 2,500-square-metre Traveller Superstore onboard MyStar – which coincidentally is the most technologically advanced and energy efficient LNG vessel in Tallink’s fleet, with its eight-cylinder dual-fuel main engines capable of running on natural gas and marine diesel fuel.
“Using local and sustainably produced ingredients and products is one of our key sustainability targets across the group in general and not just in relation to travel retail,” said Link.
“We have local produce targets in our food and beverage area for our restaurants, and for materials used in the interior design of our ship. So it is something we increasingly aim for. Not only does it support regional and local business, but it also helps reduce the company’s emissions footprint.”
Stay close to TRBusiness for updates on Tallink Grupp’s detailed CSR objectives, as they are set.