Cruise ships were some of the first in the industry to work with municipalities in Alaska and California to develop shore power connections at berth, allowing a vessel to shut down its engines and eliminate air emissions from the vessel. Other vessels are test platforms for ballast water treatment systems, more efficient lighting, and plasma arc gasification (a waste incineration process).
Cruise lines also work with equipment manufacturers to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter through in-engine technology and exhaust gas scrubbers. Many vessels are equipped with advanced waste water treatment systems to treat black (sewage) and gray water and turn it into clean water.
As one might expect, cruise ships generate large amounts of waste, but it is not volume that constitutes or prevents pollution, it is the strength or failure of waste management practices and procedures. In the first picture, environmental officer Malcolm Barry, right, prepares waste for landing ashore. Managing waste includes:
- landing it ashore to an approved disposal facility,
- grinding and screening for disposal to the sea (mostly food waste),
- sorting and combusting in an incinerator,
- sorting and compacting for recycling.
Cruise ships continually analyze where waste is generated and work to reduce the amount of waste coming aboard. The process has also been used to reduce toxicity of chemical products. Also, buying bulk concentrates and using dispensing stations reduces the number and volume of bottles of prepared products coming aboard.
Today’s port facilities can recycle aluminum cans, tin, glass, cardboard, white paper, photo copier cartridges, plastics, photo waste, cooking oil, carpet, paints and thinners, batteries, and even electronics.
One challenge for a vessel with finite storage space is deciding where to put items awaiting recycling. Cooking oil and glass from beer and wine bottles are stored in cold rooms to keep them from attracting pests. Most other recyclables are compacted into palette-sized bundles that can be stacked and landed ashore.
Ships are also unique in that they can land some wastes to the dock and others to a barge, opening recycling opportunities to both land- and sea-based companies. The picture here depicts a barge taking on recycling materials from a cruise ship in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
For more information:
Full article and “Environmental Protection” edition of USCG Proceedings is available at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/Winter2008-09//.