Reducing our own plastic footprint. Learn more about our sustainable race village operations.

Race and Race Village Operations

At the Volvo Ocean Race we are committed to being sustainably-produced, ethical and responsible.

© Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race

We embedded sustainability management into every aspect of Volvo Ocean Race, working to minimise the footprint of the Race Villages, of the permanent and touring Boatyard, and of Race Teams, sponsor activation, and host city operations.

Impressive examples exist and innovation abounds in reducing the Race’s footprint throughout the global Volvo Ocean Race family.

We worked together to minimise waste and single-use plastics and to recover as many resources as possible. Energy consumption was be monitored to ensure we had the most energy efficient Race Village as possible. We conserved water and protected the surrounding waterways and local environment from Race Village and Boatyard operations, and on-water activities.

Turn the Tide on Plastic at Sporting Events - User Guide

From local playing fields to the world stage, athletes, teams, clubs, events organisers, federations, stadia, spectators and fans are joining forces to turn the tide on plastic. Sporting events can show true leadership by eliminating 
single-use plastic from their sites and advocating 
throughout their supply chain and fan base for 
everyone to play their part in making 
#CleanSeas a reality.

This guide has been produced to share our knowledge and learnings on how to reduce single-use plastic at sporting events. We hope it inspires you to take action to turn the tide on plastic at your event too.

Download the guide.

Single Use Plastics

One of our most important, visibly impactful and challenging goals during the race is to avoid single-use plastics in our Race Villages.

© Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race

Although challenging and in some cases unavoidable, we nonetheless strive to find practical, effective and replicable solutions for each destination.

We know the extra effort needed to avoid single-use plastics will highlight this important issue and leave a lasting impression with spectators, guests, sponsors, host cities, contractors and suppliers.

Water bottle refills, alternatives to single-use plastic bottles, disposable food service-ware and other packaging are our key targets areas. Bluewater, our official water supplier has installed water stations, with mineralised, chilled and even carbonated water, purified through reverse osmosis technology. These played a critical role in providing hydration in a responsible way when we were visiting drought-stricken Cape Town. Find out more.

We estimate the number of single-use plastic bottles and other items avoided through our intervention, along with total plastic resources generated and recovered recovered for recycling throughout the race. 

We're on track to have avoided more than 300 000 single-use water bottles through our water refill points and hundreds of thousands of other single-use items such as plates, cups, cutlery and plastic single-use handouts!


Our ambition is for food served and sold at our Race Villages and at associated events to be as sustainable as possible. This means considering each and every stopover and reviewing what ‘sustainable food’ means locally.

© Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race

Working closely with Host Cities and caterers we will encourage or ensure the inclusion of locally-produced and seasonal food, organic, fair trade or other local and relevant sustainability protocols. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, allergies and culturally appropriate options will be available.

Sustainable seafood is obviously closely aligned with the spirit of sustainability and the race, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that only seafood from sustainable fish stocks, harvesting techniques and with acceptable humanitarian standards is served or sold during the race. Where sustainable sourcing cannot be guaranteed, seafood will not be served.


The Volvo Ocean Race is committed to ensuring all products and materials purchased for use during the event come from ethical and environmentally responsible sources.

© Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race

Our disposable serviceware will not be plastic, and we will source the most sustainable options we can for our materials and supplies. For example there will be no branding (flags, banners etc) made from environmentally-harmful PVC in any of our Race Villages - and in an important move to avoid the use of hundreds of thousands of single-use cable (zip) ties, we have invested in re-usable bungee cords to attach our branding.

We're engaging and encouraging Host Cities, sponsors, teams and other participants to, like us, uphold these principles of sustainability.

Transport and GHGs

In order to run a global event, transport is an inevitable part of our footprint. We do not shy away from this impact.

© Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race

We aim to reduce total travel miles, firstly through analysing our flight and freight requirements, and then through looking for ways to be more efficient.

Ultimately we are aiming to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with flights, sea freight and land transport for moving equipment, infrastructure and people.

Significant effort is being put into streamlining our sea freight and drastically reducing air freight. Specialist technology is used to plan for efficient shipping container packing to keep container numbers as low as possible and to utilise all available space.

To further reduce our travel footprint we are engaging our workforce, visitors and guests in the concept of sustainable travel. At each stopover we encourage active travel and using available public transport. The aim is to have the workforce staying within walking distance of the Race Village.

Where cycling is popular and safe, secure bike parking stations will be provided for visitors to the Race Village. Cycling will also be encouraged of our workforce where possible.