Where does cruise ship garbage go?

What happens to all the garbage produced by cruise ships? It’s actually a pretty interesting question with a surprisingly complicated answer.

A typical cruise ship can generate sewage and gray water (waste water from showers, sinks and laundry). That doesn’t even include the solid waste like uneaten food, paper products and packaging.

So where does it all go?

The first step is actually pretty simple: garbage is sorted onboard the ship. Recyclable materials are separated out and set aside to be dealt with later. The rest is either incinerated or stored in the ship’s on-board landfill until the end of the voyage.

This is a common misconception, but the answer is no. Dumping garbage in the ocean is actually against international law. The regulations are set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and they stipulate that all solid waste must be either incinerated or stored onboard until the ship reaches port.

So if cruise ships can’t dump their garbage in the ocean, what do they do with it?

Well, once the ship reaches port, the garbage is offloaded onto land where it is dealt with according to local regulations. In some cases, this might mean simply dumping it in a landfill. But in others, the waste is incinerated or recycled. It really varies depending on the country.

Are there special taxes for managing cruise ship garbage?

The price of disposing of cruise ship waste is actually quite high. In fact, it can cost up to $750 per ton to dispose of solid waste properly. That might not sound like a lot, but when you consider that a typical cruise ship produces about 5 tons of garbage per day, it starts to add up!

Of course, these costs are ultimately passed on to the passengers in the form of higher ticket prices. So the next time you’re planning a cruise, keep in mind that your vacation might be contributing to pollution in a very real way. 

Fortunately, there are some simple solutions. One is to choose a cruise line that has a good track record when it comes to environmental responsibility. Another is to be conscious of the amount of waste you generate while on vacation and try to recycle or reuse as much as possible.

By following these simple tips, you can help make sure that your next cruise is as green as it can be!