Carnival Corporation announced significant strides in its quest to minimize the amount of food waste produced onboard its ships, an important part of the company’s sustainability goals. The company is inching ever closer to an ambitious 40% reduction by 2025 and sets the stage for a 50% reduction by 2030.

Food waste refers to the food items that are prepared but not consumed by guests and crew, and later discarded. Excess food from buffets, uneaten meals in restaurants, spoilage of perishable items, and over-prepared dishes, all contribute. Food waste is a significant operational and environmental challenge on cruise ships, where thousands of meals are served daily.

Food and cruise ships have become synonymous with each other, with the last 30 years seeing an abundance of food served onboard. However, this also means that certain efficiencies have long been neglected, leading to waste, which in turn has a significant impact on the environment. 

Carnival Corporation achieved a significant milestone in its commitment to minimize the amount of food waste produced onboard its ships, with a 38% decrease in food waste per guest compared to the baseline figures of 2019. 

This means substantial progression towards the goal of reducing food waste by 40% per person by 2025. The company operates a total of nine different cruise lines and owns the most cruise ships in the world. In all, Carnival Corporation set a goal for a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030.

Carnival Cruise Line Waste (Credit: Carnival)

“One of the many ways we create unforgettable happiness for our guests is through world-class food and dining experiences on our ships,” said Bill Burke, chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation. 

“Our food tells a story and it’s a labor of love to serve amazing meals to millions of guests each year while making sure we manage it in the most sustainable way possible. It’s a virtuous cycle from start to finish that reduces our environmental footprint while ensuring the extraordinary guest experiences that make our world-class cruise lines stand out.”

How Carnival has minimized the amount of food waste onboard its ships is not just down to producing less food, it’s down to a range of technological advancements.

Food waste generated onboard cruise ships has a two-fold effect. One, excess food waste means food is being produced, but not used, using up valuable resources, which in turn has a profound effect on the environment. However, food waste also harms the back end, where unused food needs to be discarded again. 

If this food is discarded ashore, it produces greenhouse gasses. Carnival Corporation has actively implemented several strategies to reduce food waste across the lifecycle. 

Biodigesters, of which some 600 have been installed onboard the ships, and food dehydrators have been instrumental in this process, allowing the company to naturally break down and responsibly dispose of unused food.

Photo Copyright: Melissa Mayntz / Cruise Hive

The company’s initiatives to cut food loss include monitoring and analyzing guest dining trends using AI technology. This optimization extends through the entire food lifecycle on its ships, from ingredient purchasing to meal preparation and presentation. 

Some vessels have even begun donating surplus food to local communities, Costa Cruises being a prime example.

The reduction of food waste is one area where Carnival is putting significant efforts, as it has a meaningful impact on the company’s ability to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. 

Reducing food waste, together with using less impactful fuels, bubble technology to reduce hull drag, and several other measures, will help Carnival achieve its 2050 goals of becoming a net-zero greenhouse gas company, which also includes building ships that do not need to discharge to the ocean or air, and ensuring 100% of waste is converted to energy.

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