MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise company and leading cruise brand in Europe, South America, South Africa and the Gulf, today announced another new chapter in its environmental stewardship programme, by introducing a commitment to eliminate single-use plastics from its entire fleet globally and introduce sustainable alternatives if available.
Under its Plastics Reduction Programme, by the end of March 2019 MSC Cruises will now effectively phase out an extensive number of plastic items from all its ship operations and ashore, and will replace them with environmentally-friendly solutions. As a first step, the Company has already taken action to replace by the end of 2018 all plastic straws with 100% compostable and biodegradable substitutes.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman, said: “At MSC Cruises, it is our mission to provide guests with the best holiday experiences at sea and we are fully committed to doing so in a sustainable way. For this reason, we are on an ongoing journey to reduce the environmental impact of our ships in operation. The imminent elimination of single-use plastic items from across our entire fleet globally is an additional step that we are taking in that direction. More importantly, under our global environmental stewardship programme, it represents yet another step in our overall commitment to conserve and protect our planet’s most precious resource: the seas and the oceans.”
Throughout the years, MSC Cruises has taken voluntary steps to uphold this commitment under its global environmental stewardship programme. Through a series of previous actions, all MSC Cruises ships have been systematically readied for this programme and are equipped with state-of-the-art recycling facilities and efficient waste management systems. All crew are engaged in the Company-wide effort to separate and handle waste in accordance with regulatory MARPOL requirements and CLIA’s sound environmental principles to prevent marine pollution. Their efforts are closely monitored by a comprehensive and coherent system to manage and control all environmental aspects on board and ashore. An empowered team of dedicated Environmental Officers across the fleet makes sure the Company’s policies and vision are effectively implemented. Through a robust training programme, the Company continually strives to raise the bar in this field and achieve improved waste management and recycling practices.
In order to meet and exceed its environmental objectives, MSC Cruises is now also in the process of eliminating virtually all single-use plastics from its fleet and shore side operations. By March 2019, all single-use plastic shopping bags, spoons, glasses, stirrers, and other single-use plastic items for which substitution is available will be permanently phased out and replaced by environmentally-friendly alternatives. Packaging from single-portion items such as butter cups, jams or yoghurts will be removed and processes will be optimized to provide guest-friendly and convenient solutions.
While the Company works towards meeting this commitment, an imminent fleet-wide measure will be the removal of all single-use plastic straws. Already by the end of 2018, MSC Cruises will only provide fully biodegradable and compostable straws on board its ships and ashore. Moreover, drinks will no longer automatically be served with a straw, a measure which will see the overall consumption of straws reduce by 50%. Guests who may require a straw will still be able to choose from a variety of environmentally-friendly options. This practice also extends to the Company’s island destinations, all shore-based offices and the shore excursions MSC Cruises offers.
MSC Cruises will be working with a range of international and local suppliers in areas where the ships are deployed and will be providing eco-friendly alternatives made of 100% biodegradable resins, consisting of renewable resources including corn- or sugar-based polylactic acid, bamboo, paper or other organic materials. In addition, the Company is also actively working with suppliers at all levels in the supply chain to effectively remove single-use plastics in products and packaging wherever possible.
This forthcoming achievement is a first step in a broader Plastics Reduction Programme which aims at eliminating single-use disposable plastic – when viable substitution is available –, and reducing the use of plastics more generally. However, this is an ongoing journey and when technology doesn’t yet allow for sustainable non-plastic substitution, MSC Cruises wants to ensure all disposable plastic waste items are recycled correctly. To this end, as this programme aims to be all-encompassing, MSC Cruises will be working with a global leader in inspection, verification, testing and certification, to assure recycling activities are verified and certified by an expert organisation.
Mr Vago concluded: “At MSC Cruises we are now exploring working with a leading global certification company to assure any remaining plastic items, for which there currently are no viable substitutes yet, are effectively recycled. This will ensure end-to-end – no matter where our ships are deployed – that these remaining items from across all our ship operations not only do not have an impact on the sea, but also on land for the benefit of the populations that we touch with our operations globally.”
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