Cruise ships are going green in laundry and dry cleaning, although using different systems. Aboard Holland America Line ships wet cleaning has replaced dry cleaning, for example, using a system developed by Miele. So-called WetCare cleans garments with water without using harsh chemicals, replacing the standard dry cleaning systems.
Water and regular detergents are used that can be treated as other laundry detergents in the gray water processing. Royal Caribbean Cruises uses another system, also without employing the toxic Perchloroethylene (Perc), using aliphatic hydrocarbons instead.
“We have looked at the citrus-based solvents and CO2,” said Richard Pruitt, vice president of environmental programs, “but found aliphatic hydrocarbons more purposeful for us. We have dropped Perc, which is hazardous to humans.”
Special WetCare machines with patented honeycomb drums and gentle agitation prevent damage to textiles, and have spin cycles that extract most of the moisture, according to Miele. Dryers have moisture control to prevent overdrying. After drying, Miele recommends that fibers must be tensioned again with special tension equipment. Holland America introduced wet-cleaning in 2004 and had replaced its traditional dry cleaning system on all the ships by 2008, in addition to its new ships, according to Hart Sugarman, deputy director of housekeeping operations.
At Royal Caribbean, what may once have been the lowly laundry facility in the past is going high-tech with low-consumption motors and insulation to prevent heat loss, reducing the amount of waste to a minimum, Pruitt explained. He said the Oasis of the Seas, for example, has one Milnor tunnel washer with a load capacity of 110 pounds with nine modules, four 275-pound and one 75-pound washer extractor. Detergent is metered into the washing machines from big free-standing containers supplied by ECOLAB. “We are the first cruise line to use phosphate-free, biodegradable detergent,” Pruitt noted.
All wastewater on Royal Caribbean ships is treated in advanced wastewater treatment plants before being discharged, although Pruitt said the company is considering reusing it for technical purposes. There are four Cissel dryers with a capacity of about 110 pounds each and five tunnel dryers. The dryers also have several layers of lint filters that are cleaned and inspected regularly. After drying, laundry goes into the so-called mangle machine that “takes out any remaining moisture and folds sheets.” A laundry staff of 32 works in two shifts around the clock.