Cleaning up greywater in our marinas with: Ecoworks Marine




It's easy to see why cleaning down a yacht after any time at sea is a given routine for almost every sailor and boat owner. From the deck to the showers and from the heads to the hull, sailors take great pride in keeping their vessels as clean as possible. Yet, what we don’t see so easily is the impact this routine has on the health, and look and feel, of our marinas. 

In this next edition of our Cleaner Marina case studies, led by Ecoworks Marine, we take a deeper look at the impact that greywater runoff has on our marinas and what they, and boat owners and sailors, can do to lessen the impact that greywater has on the health of our marine environment. 

So, what is greywater? In a previous article, the Clean Sailors crew addressed what greywater is, the toxic damage it creates, and how it is produced during everyday, routine activities at sea. In terms of marinas though, it is the wastewater produced when we deep clean everything on the boat once in the safety of a marina. Not only do harmful by-products such as phosphates, microplastics, microbeads and a whole range of other hazardous chemicals from the cleaning agents damage the environmental health of marina waters but the cumulative damage from many yachts disposing of their greywater overboard also makes marinas appear dirty and unappealing to visitors.

In countries like Spain, Turkey and Greece, the practice of disposing of greywater overboard has actually been prohibited, however, in regions where it hasn’t, it’s up to marinas and boat owners to make a conscious effort to never let their wastewater enter an aquatic environment and by using eco-friendly products in all aspects of their yachting and boat-cleaning activities.

Boat owners: clean with better products

Although many cleaning products  are advertised  as eco-friendly, green, non-toxic, or biodegradable, the labelling is not regulated, so you need to be sure of the reliability of the products you choose to clean with. You can start doing this by reading the product labels to check for any toxic ingredients before buying them or better yet reading the safety data sheets that should be readily accessible on the supplier's website.

Here at Ecoworks Marine, producing sustainable and eco-friendly cleaning agents is the core of our business and we’ve been committed to improving the health of our waters and marinas since our inception. Championed by the Royal Yachting Association for our sustainability credentials, we’ve been harnessing our laboratories to develop biochemically-based products for yachts and marinas, including an eco drain cleaner and greywater additive

When we formulate our products, we make a conscious effort with all of them to use friendly bacteria and live enzymes. In contrast to conventional chemicals that burn off the grime and then cease to act, these two agents help consume dirt, grease, and then the organic waste produced, minimising the volume of harmful greywater runoff. All of our products are also highly concentrated, come in recyclable plastic containers, and endure rigorous ongoing raw product testing for their sustainability credentials.

Being more sustainable has even further  benefits. For example, by using friendly enzymes and bacteria our products produce a residual cleaning effect. This means that the bacteria and enzymes continue cleaning even after use as some remain. This reduces the likelihood of blockages, allowing greywater systems to last longer and reduces maintenance and refit costs. 

By using better, genuinely ocean-minded products on our boats we can have an immediate positive impact on out waters, especially in dense boating areas. We want people to consider this much more when sailing. When we create products we want them to be easy to use, including our greywater product, so sailors and boat owners can easily make a small but necessary change. By making this change oceans and marinas will become far more pleasant places for everyone. 

Marinas: lessen the impact of greywater

Sailors and boat owners taking greater care and responsibility for their greywater discharge is one thing, but it’s also up to our marina authorities to play their part. After all, the majority of boat-cleaning activities take place within their waters and facilities.  So, along with simply stocking more eco-friendly cleaning agents, marinas must consider several other solutions to help limit the hazardous impact of greywater on the marine environment. We brainstormed with Clean Sailors and came up with a number of ideas and solutions that we wanted to share.


Greywater pollution in a marina


  • Prohibit the expulsion of greywater into the surrounding marine ecosystem
  • Display information on the website and information board on how to better clean boats and manage greywater runoff 
  • Require a Marine Code of Conduct pledge from each sailor as part of the reservation process  
  • Provide adequate greywater storage and treatment facilities on the premises that are easily accessible to all yacht owners
  • Ensure there are pump-out facilities onshore and mobile pumps that can go out to boats and collect their greywater. 
  • Ensure that there are clean and adequate sanitation facilities no less than 200 meters from each boat, with attractive access.
  • Provide well-drained areas onshore for cleaning and maintaining boats 
  • Stock eco-friendly products in the chandlery, including dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents, soaps, sanitisers, sunscreens, and toiletries. 

While the above list could easily be expanded, spreading awareness of these ideas is a great place to start. Many marinas have already begun innovating and improving their pump-out facilities and services for sailors but as a marine community, there’s so much more we could do and encourage.

The very practice of ‘cleaning’ consciously implies that there’s willingness to "maintain’’ and "preserve’’, but if the by-products and impacts of that practice aren’t fully understood and considered, or if the resources and supplies on offer to do so don’t meet the required standards, then it simply enhances the environmental damage our marine industry is creating. 


Ecoworks Marine ocean-friendly cleaning products


As sailors, surfers, swimmers and general lovers of water and the ocean it’s painful to visibly see the build up of chemicals from greywater runoff and other elements in marinas. This is just what we can see however and beyond marinas, runoff still causes harm that we can’t see. While anti-foul and paint is often given focus from a sustainability point of view, greywater is often forgotten about. By carefully watching what products you use on board, from cleaning products to your suncream, shampoo and soaps you can easily reduce your negative impact on the environment. We want to encourage as many people as possible to just start to think a little more when purchasing. By doing this we really can begin to make a start at reducing sailing's impact on the ocean.


Click here for more information about Ecoworks Marine and to shop their products