Cruise Lines Mark Environmental Progress

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) President and CEO Terry Dale offers a timely Earth Day 2009 reminder of the industry’s environmental progress and innovation over the past year. Dale notes the progress the cruise lines have made and highlights new EPA regulations that comprehensively regulate the wastewater discharges from all marine vessels including cruise ships.

“Our industry recognizes and appreciates its responsibility in mitigating our environmental impact on Earth Day and every other day,” said Dale. “We are proud of the fact that cruise lines continue to meet or exceed all domestic and international environmental standards, invest in a wide array of innovations, and enable our guests to enjoy increasingly green vacation experiences.”

Dale noted that 2009 will mark the first year cruise lines will operate under broad, new regulations adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in February under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Vessel General Permit, which regulate 26 different discharges incidental to the normal operation of marine vessels. Together with the Clean Water Act, which already regulates blackwater (wastewater from toilets), Dale said that all wastewater discharge from ships is now subject to strict regulation.

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 solar panels that sustainably power on-board amenities, the cruise line industry is demonstrating its commitment to sound environmental stewardship, CLIA reports.

“With the global nature of the industry, cruise lines have the scale to make compelling, positive, impacts on the environment,” said Patrick Maher, senior director of Business Policies and Practices at Conservation International. “By engaging with its crews and customers as well as working with conservation organizations to use science based solutions to address important issues such as wastewater treatment and energy efficiency, the industry’s commitment to conservation remains strong.”

To protect the marine environments in which the industry operates and as a condition of membership in CLIA, all lines must adopt its 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 treat all blackwater 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. These systems are not required by any regulatory body, CLIA notes. However, CLIA member cruise lines have invested hundreds of million of dollars in the research, development, testing and application of these systems onboard many ships.

Important cruise line initiatives range from “below deck” innovations that dramatically improve engine efficiency and reduce power usage, fuel consumption and air emissions to “above deck” programs like the installation of green appliances and rigorous recycling that create the highest sustainable guest experience.

Read more on what the cruise industry is doing to become more eco-friendly.


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