Carnival Corporation is pilot-testing food waste bio-digester technology to improve environmental compliance and the food waste disposal process on 15 cruise ships. The world’s largest cruise company, spanning nine cruise lines and over 100 ships, plans to expand the program across its fleet in the near future.
The new innovation in green technology at sea provides a number of benefits, including:
- Separating the small pieces of plastics and other debris that can occasionally find its way into food waste for sustained environmental compliance;
- Providing more efficient and centralized onsite food waste operations;
- Enhancing onboard public health as well as reducing a ship’s carbon footprint by automated and natural processing of food waste.
The bio-digesters reduce a cruise ship’s carbon footprint by using an aerobic digestion process that takes place within the machines and efficiently breaks down food particles, releasing a translucent, environmentally safe liquid. This limits the amount of greenhouse gas emitted from conventional food waste processing systems, helping reduce the company’s environmental impact.
Currently being evaluated on 15 cruise ships with 12 more vessels scheduled in coming months across seven of the corporation’s nine cruise line brands – Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises (UK), Princess Cruises and Seabourn – food waste bio-digesters are used for successful food waste management at some restaurants, hotels, government facilities, stadiums, theme parks and other locations. The bio-digester systems in Carnival Corporation’s pilot test are among the first systems of this kind to be tested on a cruise ship.
Throughout the day, as food scraps are added to the system, a mix of microorganisms, including microbes and enzymes, rapidly and naturally digest the organic waste. The machines operate 24 hours a day, allowing for continuous food “digestion.”
Carnival Corporation is testing three different bio-digester machines, including systems that can evaluate a variety of parameters and produce valuable data, including the weight and volume of food waste digested, the net food waste reduced and the amount of CO2 reduced, among others. Equally important is that all of these parameters can be automatically uploaded to a cloud server and remotely monitored around the clock by shipboard and shore-side employees.
Food waste bio-digesters are placed in strategic areas such as a ship’s galley, allowing for more convenient and efficient food waste processing at the source. Bio-digesters in the pilot feature a screen filter at the bottom of each machine that captures any small plastics and other non-organic debris accidentally mixed with food waste, a feature that improves environmental compliance. The green technology also supports and enhances operations onboard, making it more efficient for crew members to manage and control food waste.
In 2017, the company achieved its 25% carbon reduction goal three years ahead of schedule, and is on track with its nine other 2020 sustainability targets for reducing its environmental footprint while enhancing the health, safety and security of its guests and crew members, and ensuring sustainable business practices among its nine brands, business partners and suppliers.
The company has used other complementary technologies to achieve ecological advantages – including launching the world’s first-ever cruise ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), pioneering the use of Advanced Air Quality Systems on board its ships and promoting the use of shore power.