Cruise ships generate a lot of waste due to the thousands of people on board the vessels every day. Because they are on the move it is much harder for the ships to dispose of waste. A general belief is that these enormous boats simply dump raw sewage and other pollutants straight into the oceans. Indeed in 2016, Princess Cruises was fined a record £32 million for the “illegal dumping of oil-contaminated waste from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship,” according to the US Justice Department.
However, this was found to be the fault of an engineer rather than a systematic failure of procedures.
In reality, such incidents such as this are rare. Anything which is discharged into the sea goes through rigorous treatment first.
Sewage on a cruise ship includes wastewater from toilets, urinals, medical sinks and other similar facilities.
According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA): “Members agree to process all sewage through a sewage treatment system that is certified in accordance with international regulations, prior to discharge.
“For ships not using onshore reception facilities and travelling regularly on itineraries beyond the territorial water of coastal states, discharge is to take place only when the ship is more than four nautical miles from the nearest land and travelling at a speed of not less than six knots.”
Waste management is governed by international maritime laws administered by United Nations agency International Maritime Organisation, based in London.
Every ship has its own environment officer and crew are responsible for their own recycling.
CLIA claim cruise ships recycle far more per person at sea than the average person does on land.
A spokesperson for CLIA told Express.co.uk: “Cruise lines carefully follow waste management and recycling practices (link to Waste Management Policy) to prevent waste in oceans.
“Due to the efforts of highly trained waste management professionals onboard, some cruise ships repurpose 100 per cent of the waste generated onboard — by reducing, reusing, donating, recycling and converting waste into energy.
“Cruise ship waste management professionals recycle 60 per cent more waste per person than the average person recycles on shore each day.
“Cruise lines recycle 80,000 tons of paper, plastic, aluminium and glass each year.”
Last year P&O Cruises and Cunard announced their plans to abolish single-use plastics including plastic straws, water bottles and coffee stirrers from ships by 2022.
The sister Carnival UK lines have also stated their intention to remove single use plastics from the hotel operations of ships by the end of 2022, as part of an overall environmental compliance plan.
Cruise giants are responding to concerns raised by popular BBC programme, Blue Planet II which highlighted how plastic consumption is changing our oceans for the worse.
Carnival UK president John Weinstein commented: “Programmes such as Blue Planet have shone a light on the impact plastic can have on our seas and it is our responsibility, as an ocean-going cruise line, to take action now, however many hurdles we have to face along the way.”