Carnival Becomes First Major Cruise Line to Employ Bio-Digesters Across the Fleet

Carnival Cruise Line becomes the first major cruise line to employ bio-digesters fleetwide to significantly reduce food waste.

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In the spirit of Earth Day, several cruise lines have highlighted their environmental efforts and introduced new measures toward ecological protection. With food waste, in particular, being a considerable problem onboard ships, Carnival Cruise Line decided to install more than 200 bio-digesters onboard its ships. 

The new digestors will allow Carnival to process the food waste onboard and discharge it lawfully. By using a combination of micro-organisms, oxygen, and warm water, food waste is broken down up to 99%. 

This will prove beneficial in many different ways, economically and environmentally, and for the crew members onboard, who no longer will need to work in hazardous conditions dealing with food waste.  

More than 200 Biodigesters Across All Ships

Carnival Cruise Line highlights its environmental efforts on Earth Day through a significant reduction in food waste since its restart of guest operations. The company became the first major cruise line to equip each vessel with biodigesters, some 200 pieces across all 23 ships.

“Earth Day is a great opportunity to recognize our efforts toward a more sustainable future, and making the process of discarding food waste significantly more environmentally-friendly is a big step in that mission.” said Richard Pruitt, vice president of environmental operations at Carnival Cruise Line.

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The company behind the biodigesters estimates the machines will be able to reduce the amount of food waste onboard the Carnival Cruise Line ships by as much as 94 million pounds by the end of the year. Just onboard the cruise line’s newest ship, Mardi Gras, 14 digesters can process about 142,000 pounds of food waste each week.

“We are proud to have teamed with Carnival Cruise Line on a successful path towards food waste reduction, efficient and safe disposal methods, and the associated beneficial environmental outcome,” said Emily F. Dyson, vice president of science, research and development for Renovare Environmental.

What Would Happen with Food Waste Without the Digesters?

Without the digesters, millions of pounds of food waste would end up in the oceans without being processed. Food waste is legally discharged from ships.

According to MARPOL (The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships), ships can discharge their food waste12 nautical miles from the shore if unprocessed and ground down at three nautical miles.

Carnival Cruise Line Ships
Photo Credit: SeregaSibTravel / Shutterstock

However, even if the food waste is ground down, it would still be recognizable as food waste and thus could end up potentially harming the marine environment. 

The biodigesters break down the food to a point where it is simply a silt-like material. They use an aerobic digestion process that takes place within the machines.

This green technology also supports and enhances operations on board, making it more efficient for crew members to manage and control food waste. 99% of the food waste is processed through a combination of microorganisms, warm water, and oxygen.

This organic matter can then be discharged without possible harm to the marine environment. With the new digesters that have been on trial onboard its ships since 2019, Carnival is taking a considerable step towards minimizing the amount of waste produced onboard cruise ships. 

In the meantime, it also ensures it is compliant with the provisions set out by Florida Judge Patricia Seitz. She ordered the cruise line to be compliant with environmental policies, which included installing food waste digesters on ships or carrying out preparations for such installations.

Carnival cruise Ships

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