Environment Category Finalist
Alcatraz prison, now standing empty on a rocky island in San Francisco harbour, once confined the likes of Al Capone. It was a name to conjure fear, somewhere from which no escape has ever been confirmed.
These days its infamous legacy makes it a magnet for inquisitive tourists, and the boat trips to discover its secrets are some of San Francisco's most popular attractions, experienced by millions of visitors each year. The tourists are lured by Alcatraz's sinister past, yet when they travel on the vessels of Alcatraz Cruises, they encounter a showcase for a brighter future.
Alcatraz Cruises' ferries are some of the most environmentally friendly boats of their kind. The hybrid fleet uses power generated by ten‐foot‐tall wind turbines and photovoltaic solar arrays covering the awnings on the top decks. Inside, the recyclable carpets contain fibres made from post-consumer recycled materials. The countertops are made from pieces of recycled glass. Even the signage is printed on a sustainably-sourced composite. And last year, the company managed to divert 95% of the waste created by its operations from landfill.
Just as impressive as its efforts to minimise its negative impact, is its work to ensure it makes a positive difference. Alcatraz Cruises provides financial sponsorship to local environmental non-profits. It has set up a battery recycling collection site for the local community. And it runs environmental days showcasing local products, services and organisations. These attract tourists and members of the public, who then learn how they too can reduce their carbon footprint.
When the company isn't ferrying tourists back and forth to the rock, it runs educational trips. Partnering with Aquarium of the Bay, Alcatraz Cruises takes local students to learn about innovative energy saving technologies, the ecology of San Francisco Bay, and the impacts of climate change on the region. The students may never know if anyone survived an escape from the prison, but they'll be better equipped to cope with the environmental challenges to come.