Microplastics are one of the most aggressive pollutants in our oceans, killing millions of animals each year. Plankton, shellfish, fish, and mammals such as whales and dolphins are affected by the discharge of microplastics, building up in their bodies and leading to malnutrition and, ultimately, death. 

Cruise ships are part of the microplastic pollution that ends up in our ocean, particularly through the onboard laundry releasing microfibers going into the wastewater streams and personal care products used by passengers and crew members which contain microbeads. 

UK-based Marella Cruises, which operates five cruise ships, has started a new initiative to combat the microplastic problem that its ships create by installing a revolutionary new filter system.

Marella Explorer Cruise Ship

In partnership with Cleaner Seas Group and the University of Surrey, Marella will be using two INDIKON filters on the crew laundry system during an initial six-month trial onboard Marella Explorer.

The INDIKON filter, engineered by Cleaner Seas Group, aims to remove the microfibers from laundry wastewater and can be retrofitted onto the washing machines that are onboard. 

Olivia Wells, Sustainability Manager at Marella Cruises said: “We are committed to finding ways to further look after the natural environment in which our ships sail. By working with Cleaner Seas Group during this six-month trial as an industry first initiative, we believe that it will support future studies on preserving and protecting oceans.”

The University of Surrey has launched a study on the effectiveness of the trial onboard Marella Explorer, monitoring and measuring the amount of microfibers the system can filter out. Using this data, Cleaner Seas Group will then be able to refine its system further and develop other manners in which microplastics can be filtered out of cruise ship wastewater. 

Should the trial prove successful, Marella Cruises will install the system onboard its other cruise ships, Marella Discovery, Marella Discovery 2, Marella Explorer 2, and its newest ship, Marella Voyager.

Dave Miller, CEO at Cleaner Seas Group: “We are thrilled to be working on this ocean conservation initiative with Marella Cruises. By collaborating with one of the largest cruise lines in the UK, we hope to set a new course in microplastic capture prevention at sea.”

Throughout this groundbreaking trial, we will work with the University of Surrey to monitor and measure the rates of microplastics captured in the INDIKON filters, whilst simultaneously working with our innovation team to apply and adapt our filtration technology for the cruise industry.”

It’s a step in the right direction for the cruise industry, although there remains a long road ahead.

The cruise industry is on track to meet its goals for reducing its carbon footprint and even becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The industry also has all but eliminated single-use plastics onboard.

However, the fact remains that cruise ships are still responsible for a vast amount of pollution, and have been in the spotlight for some time now to reduce this.

Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

The initiative from Marella Cruises is an industry first in addressing the issue of microplastics. However, filtering the fibers out of the laundry water is just one step in the right direction. To combat microplastics more effectively, guests and crew members can also do their part

Many cruise lines offer environmentally friendly soap, body wash, and shampoo, which do not contain any microplastics, contrary to some of the more well-known brands. Using natural clothing such as cotton versus synthetic fibers where possible is also a useful method to reduce microplastics.

Read Also: New Bill Targeting Cruise Ships In New York Pushes Ahead

However, it’s up to the cruise lines to develop more and better methods to reduce the pollution it creates. Marella Cruises has taken a considerable leap forward, one that other cruise lines will, hopefully, follow soon. 

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