One of the big mysteries on cruise ships is what happens to all the waste?  

Focusing on reducing waste and strengthening responsible waste management across the fleet, Royal Caribbean Group has developed industry leading practices and introduced technology that is revolutionizing how garbage is disposed, recycled, and repurposed at sea.  

What began more than 30 years ago with Save the Waves, the company’s first recycling program, has grown into a journey to reach ambitious targets to help keep waste from reaching local landfills. Across the fleet, Royal Caribbean Group continues to introduce systems and processes that improve their waste management. In fact, today 100% of the ships in the fleet are equipped to be landfill-free.  

Recycling, Repurposing, Green Hubs 

Equipping ships to be zero-landfill means each ship can fully manage its own waste onboard. Royal Caribbean Group ships have a designated waste and recycling center, where crew members hand sort and process recyclables using glass crushers, carboard bailers, aluminum can compactors and more. Crew members go as far as to differentiate glass based on its color – green, brown, and white, to make sure it is properly recycled.  

To ensure the waste leaving its ships is properly recycled, Royal Caribbean Group developed Green Hub, a capacity-building program that identifies and monitors waste vendors in strategic destinations. This program has helped divert close to 90% of their waste from landfills. Recently, the Galapagos Islands joined the Green Hub program, with Silversea becoming the first operator to gain certification in environmental management by diverting all waste from landfill.  

Waste to Energy  

Driven by a passion to innovate and consistently improve, Royal Caribbean Group also became the first company to turn waste to energy onboard a ship with the launch of next generation waste management systems. Adapting the technology used in land-based waste-to-energy facilities, they equipped two of their newest ships Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of the Seas and Silversea Cruises’ Silver Nova, with systems that allow them to take solid food and organic waste and transform it into energy the ship can directly use to power hotel facilities. This revolutionary technology is helping them repurpose their waste and fulfill their part of their energy demand in a sustainable way.  

Reducing Food Waste  

Looking at waste management from start to finish, the Group is also finding ways to prevent food waste by using a custom-built platform that monitors food supply and accurately estimates how much food should be ordered, produced, and prepared based on data of guest demand for specific menu items. This allows the onboard food and beverage teams to adjust food production in real time. 

Championing the Environment  

The Group continued to build on a robust track-record of initiatives and technologies for improving energy efficiency, water treatment and waste management. Through its SEA the Future platform, Royal Caribbean Group is committed to continuing to reach beyond the expected to sustain the planet, energize the communities in which they operate and accelerate innovation.