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Environmental stewardship: might the industry be a victim of its own success?

Environmental stewardship: might the industry be a victim of its own success?
Seatrade Cruise Global’s session on Innovations in Environmental Stewardship - moderated by CLIA’s Bud Darr, svp technical and regulatory, posed one question which resonated throughout the entire hour-long panel.

As explained by Lloyd's Register, Amercias environmental and sustainability director Ginger Garte, in her opening remarks, the cruise segment has been a leader when it comes to compliance with environmental regulations. The question can be phrased along the lines of: ‘How can this happy circumstance continue?’

Another speaker, Rich Pruett, principal of consultancy RMP Sustainability LLC suggested that the cruise sector, ‘might be a victim of its own success’, meaning that its laudable ability to surpass regulatory gauntlets might embolden regulators to create new rules that must be reckoned with.

Darr noted that industry has adopted treatment of exhaust gasses, but he cautioned that residues from closed loop systems may come under scrutiny. Responding to a question from a US Gulf port, Darr said that discharge of garbage (material not covered under various Marpol annexes) not incinerated aboard, ‘might be the most problematic material you will see in your port.’

Panelist Ryan Allain, vp safety, security and environment for MSC Cruises USA, offered another visage on the big question - asking whether it was the regulators, rather than industry, which was doing the innovating?

Stressing the importance of the global footprint for shipping, overall, remaining low (as trade grows and the vessel fleet grows); Ms. Garte asked: ‘How do we lead in this area and insure that everyone is working together to insure that shipping’s carbon footprint stays low? The panelists agreed that carbon reduction was the biggest issue facing the industry, with Pruitt opining that recent efforts by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to tighten aviation emissions, ‘had raised the ante for the shipping industry.’

Right now, the industry is ahead of the curve; panelist Henrik Badin, the ceo of Scanship (which makes equipment for treating waste water and food waste, and handling vessel garbage) explained that the industry is doing more than regulators require in the areas of waste water treatment.

Tougher rules are coming for vessels serving ports of call in the Baltic, for new ships in 2019, and shortly thereafter for older vessels transiting the region.

According to Badin, even in advance of the new rules, 59% of the vessels delivered since 2014 are fitted with systems to remove nutrients.

He described development of systems that will convert waste into syngas (providing power) and charcoal, which can be used in carbon capture efforts.

Pruitt stressed the important point that ‘The cruise industry footprint does not end at the dock. It extends onto the land,’ and described partnerships of several cruise lines with NGOs. He also described efforts by cruise companies to follow the recent ISO 20400 guidelines on sustainable procurement.

The discussion also turned to working cooperatively with ports to receive certain recycled materials (for example- plastic bottles) and donations of mattresses, carpeting and furniture changed out from vessels.