Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) President and CEO Terry Dale today marked Earth Day 2009 by taking note of the industry’s environmental progress and innovation over the past year, and highlighting new EPA regulations that comprehensively regulate the wastewater discharges from all marine vessels including cruise ships.

“Our industry recognizes and appreciates its responsibility in mitigating our environmental impact on Earth Day and every other day,” said Terry Dale. “We are proud of the fact that cruise lines continue to meet or exceed all domestic and international environmental standards, invest in a wide array of innovations, and enable our guests to enjoy increasingly green vacation experiences.”

Dale noted that 2009 will mark the first year cruise lines will operate under broad, new regulations adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in February under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Vessel General Permit, which regulate 26 different discharges incidental to the normal operation of marine vessels. Together with the Clean Water Act, which already regulates blackwater (wastewater from toilets), Dale said that every wastewater discharge from ships is now subject to strict regulation.

From simple actions passengers might notice, such as energy efficient LED light bulbs and high-efficiency appliances that reduce energy consumption, to more complex steps that are largely behind-the-scenes, such as plugging into shore-based power and solar panels that sustainably power on-board amenities, the cruise line industry is demonstrating its commitment to sound environmental stewardship.

“With the global nature of the industry, cruise lines have the scale to make compelling, positive, impacts on the environment,” said Patrick Maher, Senior Director of Business Policies and Practices at Conservation International. “By engaging with its crews and customers as well as working with conservation organizations to use science based solutions to address important issues such as wastewater treatment and energy efficiency, the industry’s commitment to conservation remains strong.”

To protect the marine environments in which the industry operates and as a condition of membership in CLIA, all lines must adopt its Waste Management Practices and Procedures. These practices and procedures were designed specifically to minimize the industry’s environmental impact and in fact, in some instances, go above and beyond state, federal, and international requirements. For instance, while not required to do so, CLIA members treat all blackwater before it is discharged anywhere in the world with U.S. Coast Guard approved wastewater treatment technology.

Additionally, many lines are in various stages of employing advanced wastewater purification systems (AWPS) that produce water cleaner than what is discharged from most municipalities. These systems are not required by any regulatory body. However, CLIA member cruise lines have invested hundreds of million of dollars in the research, development, testing and application of these systems onboard many ships.

Important cruise line initiatives range from “below deck” innovations that dramatically improve engine efficiency and reduce power usage, fuel consumption and air emissions to “above deck” programs like the installation of green appliances and rigorous recycling that create the highest sustainable guest experience.

These initiatives include:

• New engine designs, including diesel electric engines that allow much of the engine power to shut down when power demand is less, reducing fuel usage and air emissions,
• Shore-based power, also known as “cold ironing”, which allows ships to power-down their engines while at port, while still providing the hotel services for guests and crew on board through locally-provided electricity,
• Highly sophisticated and optimized power management systems,
• Hull designs and coatings that create smoother, more hydro-dynamically efficient ships, which reduce ship drag and thus also reduce fuel usage and emissions,
• Highly efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems,
• Waste heat recovery and reuse systems that circulate warm air throughout a ship and lessen demand.

Further, as a statement of how seriously cruise lines take this long term effort, significant efforts are being devoted to developing and implementing new technologies including:

• Testing a new exhaust scrubber technology that uses seawater to remove virtually all particulate matter and sulfur oxide gas from the engine exhaust,
• The use of alternative fuels such as biodiesel,
• Testing and applying alternative/renewable energy options such as solar panels,
• Interceptor plates designed to “lift” the body of the ship which reduces propulsion power demand and energy consumption and “duck tails” which lengthening a ship, reducing resistance, propulsion power demand, and energy consumption,
• Window coatings which prevent the sun’s heat from penetrating glass, thus reducing air conditioning needs and saving energy,
• Water use minimization procedures such as the use of low flow showers and faucets, next generation icemakers, vacuum toilets.

Other programs where cruise lines are making a difference each day include:

• Environmental stewardship videos for passengers that allow guests to learn about how they can do their part to protect the environment while aboard.
• Rigorous recycling programs that reduce the amount of waste produced by passengers aboard ships and at ports of call. Many lines have crew members who are specially trained and responsible for sorting, processing, storing, recycling, and the final disposal of garbage.
• Energy saving LED light bulbs which last 25 times longer, use 80 percent less energy, and generate 50 percent less heat.
• High-Efficiency Appliances to minimize their impact on the environment. Every type of appliance onboard cruise ships is being evaluated for efficiency, including: TV’s, coffee makers, ovens and dishwashers.