The “Sustainable Cruise” project co-funded by the European Commission by means of the “LIFE+” Programme, the EU’s funding instrument for innovative or demonstration environmental projects, is well and truly underway.

The Project Manager is Costa Cruises, the largest Italian travel group and Europe’s number one cruise company, which devised the proposal and presented it to the EU together with Ce.Si.S.P. (Centro interuniversitario per lo Sviluppo della Sostenibilità dei Prodotti or Academic Research Center for Sustainable Product Development) and the Italian enterprises VOMM, Contento Trade, Design Innovation, RINA Services and Medcruise, the Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports.

The aim of the project is to provide stimulus for the implementation of the EU Directive on waste on board ships and to create incentives for waste reduction, recycling collection, and reuse.

The Costa Pacifica (114,500 gross tonnage and 3,780 total Guests), which was built in the Genoa/Sestri Ponente shipyard and entered service at the end of May 2009, was chosen to pilot this, the world’s first ever shipboard experimental project involving the use of innovative techniques and methods for several types of waste – packaging, biodegradable (organic) waste and paper – with very specific objectives regarding reduction at the source and recycling.

The scope of the project goes beyond shipboard application and also includes coordination with European port waste disposal facilities so as to increase opportunities for recycling and reuse, with a specific brief to promote a Euro-Mediterranean network of ports fostering cooperation in the field of waste management.  This is where Medcruise is particularly involved.

“Sustainable Cruise” also aims to set up a new voluntary certification scheme for shipboard waste treatment – and its effects in terms of CO2 reduction – possibly paving the way for the introduction of specific EU environmental legislation for shipping.

“We are very proud to be managing this highly innovative project on board the Costa Pacifica, which will be the pilot ship for new models of management of certain types of solid waste,” commented Costa Cruises Vice President Quality Standards Compliance & Auditing Ernesto Gori.  “The fact that we are the first cruise company in the world to carry out such a landmark experiment, which will lead to even higher standards in the treatment of shipboard waste, is further tangible evidence of our environmental excellence.”

The “Sustainable Cruise” project dovetails with Costa Cruises’ own waste management policy, which has been applied fleetwide for some time now; Costa has a policy of 100% separation of solid waste on board, with separate storage and disposal of the following 7 streams: glass, plastic, metal, food, paper, ceramics, aluminum.

With regard to the details of the “Sustainable Cruise” on the Costa Pacifica, the project includes intervention in the area of packaging – cardboard boxes, glass bottles, and plastic bottles and containers – so as to reduce this type of waste at the origin, with the involvement of product suppliers.

Another area of the project concerns wet waste, i.e. food and other organic waste, which – on a ship like the Costa Pacifica carrying up to almost 5,000 Guests and crew – accounts for a sizeable 22% of total waste.  In compliance with international MARPOL laws (Annex V) protecting the marine environment, at present food waste is collected and processed by special equipment (shredders, crushers, compactors) to reduce the volume before it is discharged overboard as fish food.  Thanks to the state-of-the-art technology used by the “Sustainable Cruise” project, the “pulp” produced from food waste will now be processed and turned into a useful by-product (e.g. compost).

The third category involved in the project, namely paper, accounts for about 16% of the total waste generated by a ship like the Costa Pacifica.  “Sustainable Cruise” has already analyzed the waste flow (supply, storage, use and disposal) of paper on board the vessel.  Work is now focusing on devising processes that can be applied so as to reduce paper at the source, reuse it or dispose of the waste sustainably.

More details of the European “Sustainable Cruise” project and regular updates regarding the results of the work are posted at

The “Sustainable Cruise” project reflects Costa Cruises’ environmental compliance excellence. Not only does the Company comply with all the (domestic and international) environmental laws and regulations in force, but it but also voluntarily pre-empts and proactively implements possible solutions designed to enhance environmental protection. The environmental management system implemented on all Costa’s ships is developed in accordance with the requirements of UNI EN ISO 14001/2004.  The ships in the Costa fleet have been assigned RINA’s Green Star notation certifying that they are operated in compliance with environmental protection standards that are stricter than the provisions of the international MARPOL Convention.