Princess Cruises News Center
Princess Cruises' Commitment to the Environment
Princess Cruises makes its living on the oceans, and therefore we are committed to environmental practices which set a high standard for excellence and responsibility, and which help preserve the marine environment in which we operate.
Princess has defined clear environmental goals and policies, we have established strict lines of responsibility and accountability within our company for adhering to these guidelines, and we provide our shipboard staff with the equipment, expertise and training to achieve our environmental standards.
Some key points about our program are:
The cruise industry is highly-regulated, and we work closely with the regulatory and enforcement organizations that govern the cruise industry's environmental practices to ensure that our policies meet the strictest environmental regulations set forth by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and which are overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard who enforces both international and U.S. environmental laws.
In all cases, we meet environmental requirements and, in many cases, we go beyond what is required by law. And we are continuously working to identify ways we can raise the level of our environmental standards even further.
Even though disposal of many types of solid waste into the ocean is permitted by law, Princess has a zero solid waste discharge policy prohibiting the disposal of unprocessed, non-biodegradable solid waste into the ocean. All solid waste is either incinerated on board ship, or landed ashore.
Princess has invested millions of dollars to equip its ships with state-of-the-art environmental technology and waste management equipment in order to process the waste that is generated during a cruise.
One of the keys to a successful waste management program is to minimize the amount of waste generated in the first place, and to recycle where possible. To minimize plastics, Princess has worked closely with suppliers to replace plastic packaging with biodegradable materials or eliminate or reduce packaging materials.
In addition to having an Environmental Operations department reporting directly to the Senior Vice President of Marine Operations, each Princess ship has its own environmental officer. They are non-watch standing officers with full time responsibility for environment and occupational safety.
A successful environmental protection program begins with the necessary equipment in place to efficiently manage waste. Princess has built its ships to high environmental standards, and invested millions of dollars in waste management and garbage disposal technology. This is an important area of investment for us as we consider the future of our company, our industry, and the health of the marine environment for future generations.
Princess pioneered the use of shore power in the cruise industry in 2001 when Juneau, Alaska became the first city to create a shoreside power connection. Currently nine of our ships feature this capability to turn off their diesel engines and literally "plug in" to a power supply in port. To create this power system, Princess has outfitted its ships with a custom-built electrical connection cabinet that automatically connects the ship's electrical network to the local electrical network ashore through a sophisticated system of cables, circuit breakers and control circuits. As a result, shore-based electricity runs all onboard services during the day-long calls. Shore power is currently available in Juneau, Seattle, Vancouver,San Francisco and Los Angeles. Other ports around the world are also currently examining the installation of shore power capability.
Crew Education and Training
Having environmental technology is only the first part of an effective waste management program. The ship's crew play a key role in the program's success and Princess shipboard employees are trained not only on equipment use, but also to be environmentally sensitive. Princess conducts environmental training for crew members, who are also well aware of the strict disciplinary procedures that apply to any violations of our policy.
Solid Waste Management
Princess has taken many steps to reduce the amount of solid waste generated on board. On all our ships the non-biodegradable materials including metals, glass and plastics are recycled ashore and all hazardous waste is landed ashore. Biodegradable food waste is processed on board the ship using pulpers, grinders and dehydrators before being discharged into the ocean, at distances exceeding what is required by law. There are large refrigerated waste storerooms on our ships, which extends cruise times in inland waters without the discharge of any food waste.
Sorting and Separating Procedures
A key part of our recycling and waste management program is the proper sorting and separation of garbage that is generated on board ship. We start by separating at source in passenger areas with our recycling bins for glass, aluminum, paper products and the like, and this continues below deck where staff who are specially trained in these procedures ensure that waste items are properly recycled, incinerated, or stored for landing ashore into an approved garbage reception facility.
Princess has an extensive solid waste recycling program for our entire fleet. Recyclable materials such as aluminum, glass and tin cans are processed through the ship's equipment, packaged and stored for landing ashore and then off-loaded when the ship reaches a port that accepts the recycled materials. Not only is recycling a part of the ships' day-to-day operating procedures, but passengers are also encouraged to assist in the effort by using special recycling bins located around the ships.
Princess strictly adheres to the laws which prohibit the disposal of plastic materials at sea. Over time Princess has re-designed its food and supplies purchasing and packaging requirements to cut down on the number of plastic items that are brought on board a ship. Plastic has been replaced by other biodegradable materials or eliminated altogether as much as possible. For example, laundry bags have been switched from plastic to paper that can be either recycled or safely incinerated.
Zero Solid Waste Disposal at Sea
Under the environmental laws developed by the IMO in conjunction with the U.S. and other maritime nations, standards set forth in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) allow ships to dispose of waste into the oceans depending upon the waste material and how far the ship is from shore. However, Princess operates in excess of the applicable laws, and does not dispose of unprocessed non-biodegradable solid waste into the ocean. The ash resulting from incineration is landed ashore.
Grey Water and Black Water
Princess adheres to all U.S. and international environmental regulations regarding the discharge of both "grey water" (from showers, sinks, dishwashers) and "black water" (from toilets) into the ocean. All Princess ships are equipped with biological treatment plants that are certified by the U.S. Coast Guard as approved marine sanitation devices, and which meet the Clean Water Act standards of the U.S. The treatment facilities on board disinfect and naturally break down black water using a bio-reactor. After processing this is discharged into the sea at least 12 miles from shore, which exceeds the distance required by law. Grey water is held on board until the ship is underway and out of a port, and then is discharged into the sea in full compliance with all regulations, including EPA standards.
Eleven of our 16 ships have advanced wastewater treatment systems which use membrane filtration and ultraviolet light.
Hazardous Waste Management
The proper disposal of hazardous waste is of the utmost importance to Princess. Our comprehensive hazardous waste policies have been designed to carefully handle, segregate, label and off load such waste products from the ships into locally approved reception facilities. For example, batteries are collected from passengers at the photo shops. Similarly, used solvents, paints, medical waste are also labeled, stored and landed ashore. To reduce the amount of hazardous waste handled on board, we have instituted a product substitution program which has enabled us to decrease the volume of such waste generated. We also regularly review equipment and revise operational procedures to reduce hazardous waste. Dry cleaning machines have been removed from the fleet.
In addition to protecting the oceans, Princess' environmental commitment extends to protecting air quality as well. As we incinerate much of the combustible waste material onboard, the incinerators are equipped with sensors that continuously monitor the incinerator stack. Other measures to further reduce funnel emissions include purchasing fuel with a lower sulfur content than is required by international standards, and training our crew in operating procedures that minimize smoke emissions while maneuvering. Closed circuit TV cameras are installed on deck so that smoke emissions, if they do occur, can be instantly detected, enabling crew to provide an immediate response.
Oil Pollution Prevention
Oil spill prevention is another environmental concern for which Princess has prepared. Shipboard and shoreside emergency response plans are operational 24 hours a day.
The discharge of oily water from the ship's machinery spaces is governed by strict international regulations which require such water to be either retained onboard or discharged through an oil water separator. Since all ships accumulate water in the machinery space bilge, we have taken steps to eliminate any inadvertent release of oil into the marine environment. These include reducing the amount of water in the bilge to the lowest practical level, providing adequate holding tank capacity for the bilge water and a means to discharge it ashore, eliminating oil leaking from machinery so far as is practically possible, replacing equipment with state-of-the-art separators, and continuing to audit compliance with the regulations and make improvements as a result.
In the unlikely event that an oil leak should occur, Princess has a comprehensive emergency response plan in place to control and clean up small oil spills.
Auditing and Inspections
An ongoing auditing program of our ships' operating procedures and equipment is used to identify areas where further environmental enhancements and improvements can be made. In addition to the mandatory inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, classification societies, and flag and port states, every Princess ship is audited by a trained staff of professional mariners who work for Princess' Maritime Compliance department.