MSC Cruises announced another new chapter in its environmental stewardship programme. Picture: Supplied.
MSC Cruises announced another new chapter in its environmental stewardship programme, by introducing a commitment to eliminate single-use plastics from its entire fleet globally and introduce sustainable alternatives if available.   

Under its Plastics Reduction Programme, by the end of March 2019 MSC Cruises will now effectively phase out an extensive number of plastic items from all its ship operations and ashore, and will replace them with environmentally friendly solutions. As a first step, the Company has already taken action to replace all plastic straws with 100% compostable and biodegradable substitutes by the end of 2018. 

Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman, said it was their mission to provide guests with the best holiday experiences at sea  in a sustainable way. 
"We are on an ongoing journey to reduce the environmental impact of our ships in operation. The imminent elimination of single-use plastic items from across our entire fleet globally is an additional step that we are taking in that direction. 
"More importantly, under our global environmental stewardship programme, it represents yet another step in our overall commitment to conserve and protect our planet’s most precious resource: the seas and the oceans," he said. 

Throughout the years, MSC Cruises has taken voluntary steps to uphold this commitment under its global environmental stewardship programme. Through a series of previous actions, all MSC Cruises ships have been systematically readied for this programme and are equipped with state-of-the-art recycling facilities and efficient waste management systems. All crew are engaged in the Company-wide effort to separate and handle waste in accordance with regulatory MARPOL requirements and CLIA’s sound environmental principles to prevent marine pollution. Their efforts are closely monitored by a comprehensive and coherent system to manage and control all environmental aspects on board and ashore. An empowered team of dedicated Environmental Officers across the fleet makes sure the Company’s policies and vision are effectively implemented. Through a robust training programme, the Company continually strives to raise the bar in this field and achieve improved waste management and recycling practices.

In order to meet and exceed its environmental objectives, MSC Cruises is now also in the process of eliminating virtually all single-use plastics from its fleet and shore side operations. By March 2019, all single-use plastic items – such as shopping bags, spoons, glasses and stirrers –for which substitution is available will be permanently phased out and replaced by environmentally friendly alternatives. Packaging from single-portion items such as butter cups, jams or yoghurts will be removed and processes will be optimized to provide guest-friendly and convenient solutions. 

MSC Cruises will only provide fully biodegradable and compostable straws on board its ships and ashore by the end of this year. Moreover, drinks will no longer automatically be served with a straw, a measure which will see the overall consumption of straws reduce by 50%. Guests who may require a straw will still have a variety of environmentally friendly options available. This practice also extends to the Company’s island destinations, all shore-based offices and the shore excursions MSC Cruises offers.

Ross Volk, Managing Director MSC Cruises South Africa, said the cruise industry has been making big strides to remove single-use plastic items from their operations. 
 
“The depth and diligence of this programme is exceptional and unique: it is not only about single-use plastic straws, or small ‘visible’ restaurant items. The programme also looks at eliminating all ‘invisible’ single-use plastic items from the entire supply chain – and replacing them with sustainable alternatives when available.
“Single-use plastics simply don’t belong at sea and we don’t want them on any of our ships anymore," he said.