2017, 2018

2017 – 2018 Volvo Ocean Race

The Volvo Ocean Race launched a major Sustainability Program for the 2017-18 edition and beyond – of which, 11th Hour Racing was proud to be the Founding Principal Partner. The Volvo Ocean Race signed a Sustainability Charter, committing the organization to sustainable operations around the globe, and to using the Race to support efforts to improve ocean health and prevent plastic pollution.

The Volvo Ocean Race had a robust sustainability plan, developed in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing, addressing environmental impact, social impact, and communication. The plan was built on three pillars:

Maximize Impact
The Race leveraged its global platform to raise awareness on ocean health and plastic pollution, including hosting seven Ocean Summits at stopovers around the globe and highlighting the United Nations Environment’s Clean Seas campaign raising awareness to its millions of fans and followers.

Minimize footprint
The Race ran its day-to-day business, all operations and stopovers as sustainably as possible with a sustainability plan that focused on responsible resource use, responsible greenhouse gas emissions and waste management, avoiding single-use plastics, sourcing sustainable/local food and seafood, and procuring products from local suppliers with environmental and social responsibility at the forefront. Additionally, the Race met local protocols and global best practice in sustainable event management.

Leave a positive legacy
The Race launched an education and awareness program for teachers and students, with sustainability workshops in the Race Village.
The Race used its influence to engage decision makers to commit to a cleaner future, as well as support sustainable innovation in the marine sector and global industries with the goal of fighting plastic pollution.
Through a targeted Science Program, the Race used the competing teams to gather critical data on ocean health to contribute to research and ocean health monitoring.


Since 1973, the Volvo Ocean Race has provided the ultimate test of a team and a human adventure like no other. The 2017-18 edition will cover 45,000 nautical miles, across four oceans, touching six continents and 12 landmark Host Cities. Starting with this edition, the Volvo Ocean Race has put sustainability at its heart and is focusing on the rapidly growing and critical problem of plastic polluting the ocean.

Millions of people visited the Race Villages in the last edition, to get a first-hand taste of the race. Many more followed the action online, and this time fans will partake in sustainability solutions at each stopover and engaged with online content regarding ocean health issues.


Maximize Impact

  • 404,000 people visited the sustainability exhibition in the Race Village Globe.
  • 20,000 kids took part in Race Village sustainability workshops.
  • 94,000 children have accessed the Race’s online education program.
  • Over 225 speakers and 2000 people attended the 7 Volvo Ocean Race Ocean Summits.
  • 24,102 online article published on the sustainability programme, generating 820,000,000 impressions.

Minimize Footprint

  • Water refill stations prevented 388,207 single-use plastic water bottles from being used.
  • One million additional disposable plastic items were avoided.
  • 30 tons of compostable waste was recovered.
  • Instead of using 180,000 single-use cable ties, the race bought 30,000 reusable bungee cords to attach banners and flags.
  • The race’s plastic footprint was estimated at 21.3 tonnes, with 17.7 tonnes recovered, including 2.6 tonnes of soft plastics.

Leave a Lasting Legacy

  • The creation of the Turn the Tide on Plastic at Sporting Events guide, a step-by-step guide to empower any sporting event to remove single-use plastic.
  • 140 million tons of single-use plastic items replaced in Volvo cars.
  • Over 20,000 people and 3 Countries signed the UN Environment #CleanSeas pledge thanks to the Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Programme.
  • 86 microplastic samples were analyzed, 93% of which contained microplastic particles.
  • 30 drifter buoys were deployed in remote locations, and 36 data points were sent back to Race HQ in Alicante every 10 seconds – both of which give critical data to scientists.

For more information on the Sustainability Programme’s work view the 2017-18 Sustainability Report, the Science Programme Final Report, and the Race Report 2017-18.

Header image photo credit: Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race


Related News

Exploration Zone logo