Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cruising & Conservation: How Cruise Lines Commemorated Earth Day

Earth Day 2010 was celebrated this week on Thursday, April 22nd.. You may have done something “green” to recognize the date and you may have even booked a cruise. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) marked Earth Day 2010, the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, by taking note of the industry’s continued environmental progress and innovation.

“Our industry recognizes and appreciates its responsibility to reduce our environmental impact on Earth Day—as we do every day,” said CLIA President and CEO Terry Dale. “The cruise industry has made great strides in CLIA’s 35 years to become a leader in the maritime industry through responsible practices and innovations that are reducing environmental impact. We are proud of the fact that while our industry has grown considerably over the years, our lines meet or exceed all domestic and international environmental standards, in part because we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in technology and innovation in recent years. We are proud of the significant progress we have made to protect the environment.”

This week, CLIA conducted an on-line social media poll regarding perspectives on cruising, the environment and green initiatives. While not a scientific research instrument, the survey found that onboard recycling efforts do not go unnoticed. The majority of respondents correctly guessed that cruise ships recycle up to 40% of all waste. However, most underestimated how much less waste passengers produce on a cruise ship compared to when they are at home. Waste minimization efforts by CLIA lines result in the average cruise passenger producing upwards of 70% less garbage while on board a cruise ship.

From simple actions passengers might notice, such as energy efficient LED light bulbs and high-efficiency appliances that reduce energy consumption, to more complex steps that are largely behind-the-scenes, such as plugging into shore-based power and installing solar panels that sustainably power on-board amenities, the cruise line industry is demonstrating its commitment to sound environmental stewardship. More information can be found at

Below are several noteworthy “above and below deck” initiatives CLIA collected from some of its member lines to highlight on Earth Day 2010.

  • CLIA lines recycle over 79,000 tons of garbage in a given year largely including paper, plastic, aluminum cans and glass.
  • In addition to recycling, waste minimization programs are underway that result in the average cruise passenger producing upwards of 70% less garbage (1.5 lbs/day) than at home (4-5 lbs/day).
  • Reusable laundry bags are being used in guest staterooms, thus removing plastic laundry bags from the waste stream. This simple step can save thousands of bags each voyage.
  • Halogen and incandescent light bulbs have either been replaced on many lines or are being replaced with LED lights, which last 25 times longer, use 80% less energy, and generate 50% less heat.
  • Cruise lines are using ecological, non-toxic, slick hull coatings that save as much as 5% of fuel usage for propulsion.
  • Water re-use systems are at work that recycle engine cooling water for heating passenger cabins, and air conditioning water for use in laundry facilities and for deck washing.
  • Automated air conditioning systems monitor public spaces for passenger occupancy, which automatically shut off to conserve energy when passengers are not present.
  • Reflective window coatings have been designed especially for cruise ships that deflect sunlight and heat penetration, thus requiring less air conditioning to cool indoor spaces.
  • One line alone invested $400 million toward Research and Development over the last 10 years related to environmental protection.
  • Environmentally-sensitive lubricants are being used for engine systems that biodegrade more than 60% in 28 days compared to conventional marine lubricants, which can take up to a year to biodegrade 50%.
  • Water conserving ice machines on cruise ships require less water by injecting air pockets into ice cubes, which freeze faster and also consume less energy than traditional ice machines.
  • The industry has partnered with Conservation International to serve as an environmental stewardship advisor, helping CLIA member lines consider new initiatives to protect the environment.
To protect the marine environment in which the industry operates and as a condition of membership in CLIA, all member lines adopt and comply with the CLIA Waste Management Practices and Procedures. These practices and procedures were designed specifically to minimize the industry’s environmental impact and in fact, in some instances, go above and beyond state, federal, and international requirements. For instance, while not required to do so, CLIA members as a policy treat all blackwater (sewage) before it is discharged anywhere in the world with U.S. Coast Guard approved wastewater treatment technology. Additionally, many lines are in various stages of employing advanced wastewater purification systems (AWPS) that produce water cleaner than what is discharged from most municipalities.

In early 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new and expanded rules under the Vessel General Permit System that regulate all vessel discharges, including those not previously covered by the U.S. Clean Water Act. The EPA’s Vessel General Permit program regulates no less than 26 discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels, encompassing even rain water runoff and engine cooling water. Everything discharged into U.S. waters from commercial ships is now regulated. In its December 2008 Cruise Ship Discharge Assessment Report, the EPA commended the cruise industry for its solid waste management practices, which surpass the practices of most municipalities in the U.S. The report concluded that the cruise ship industry's environmental standards are “designed to increase compliance with regulatory regimes, and in some cases incorporate voluntary standards and procedures that go beyond what is required by law or regulation.”

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