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Carnival’s New Crewmembers Will Eat Your Leftovers

Carnival’s New Crewmembers Will Eat Your Leftovers
Jackie Reddy

After being hit with federal charges for dumping food and plastic waste off of the coast of The Bahamas, Carnival Cruises is attempting to implement a new solution to deal with the waste generated on its ships. It’s banning single-use plastics and is also using a bio-digester to liquidize leftovers.

As far as the environment is concerned, microplastics are currently public enemy number one. While a number of governments – including those of Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) – have introduced legislation to inhibit their use, individual companies are still working out how to reduce their dependency on microplastics. As the Miami Herald reports, Carnival Cruises is doing its best to implement its own solution to the problem.

Carnival is taking a two-pronged approach: firstly, by the end of this year, it will no longer offer single-use plastics, making it much less likely that these items will end up in the sea, and secondly, on one of its ships, the Carnival Victory, it is now using a bio-digester to completely liquidize any food waste.

Leftover food is scraped into this large machine and then, as the outlet explains, “Once a week, a Carnival crew member opens the machine and pours a Zip-lock bag full of a flour-like powder — a mix of enzymes — atop the food waste mound. Those enzymes — a type of protein found in all living organisms — eat the food waste, leaving only a liquid byproduct that makes its way through a one-millimeter mesh filter into a holding tank; it will be dumped into the ocean more than 12 miles from land.”

The cruise line’s solution comes not long after it faced federal charges for dumping mixed food and plastic waste into waters off of the coast of The Bahamas. Speaking about the impetus behind the solution, Chris Donald, Carnival Corp.’s senior vice president of corporate environmental compliance, said, “We want to get all of our fleet to a position where they are no longer discharging food waste illegally into the ocean.”

The bio-digester onboard the Carnival Victory is just one of 20 machines being trialed by the company.

“The leftover plastic can then be recycled back onshore,” it adds.

This is a major change from Carnival’s previous method of dealing with mixed food and plastic waste; formerly, the company used a machine to pulp food into small pieces. This food was then held in a tank and crew members manually pulled out pieces of plastic until it was dumped into the sea.

Further explaining this two-pronged approach to both plastic and food waste reduction, Donald added, “The beauty of the digester is that it’s only going to eat organic food. The enzymes, which are very similar to the way your stomach works, are eating the foods, but they will not eat metals, they will not eat plastics, they’re only going to eat the food. So if we do inadvertently end up with some plastics in food waste it will remain inside the digester and we can pull it out at the end of the day when the machine is going through its cleaning cycle.”

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