Cruise ship in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Image: Dziewul Shutterstock

MSC announces an ambitious program to reduce its plastics in the seas and travel a little more environmentally friendly. While they still have a long way to go, plastic is just the tip of the iceberg of one of the most polluting vacation models, with a big impact on the tourism sector’s total CO2 output. .

No more plastic bags, spoons, glasses, plates, teaspoons or straws. MSC Cruises has announced that it will phase them out completely by the end of 2019, replacing them with eco-friendly alternatives, while reorganizing the onboard kitchens to even eliminate plastic from individual portions (e.g. those in jams or yogurt. ).

If the world’s largest private cruise line, leader in Europe, South America, South Africa and the Persian Gulf, follows such a path, it means that something is finally changing for the better for the world’s seas. A first step which should not be the only one. The fuel that cruise ships travel with, the energy consumed on board or the treatment of their wastewater should be the next steps in a tourism model with many black spots.

85% of the pollution of oceans and beaches is due to plastic: it is estimated that there are 260 thousand tons. Among these, a part is visible to the eyes and then there is another very small but potentially much more harmful: microplastics (with a diameter of 5 mm). They are more dangerous because they can absorb a greater amount of toxic pollutants and, due to their small size, they can be ingested by fish and by ourselves.

According to a Greenpeace report, at least 170 marine organisms absorb them, including species that are often on our tables like swordfish, tuna or mussels. Microplastics reach our seas through the microspheres used in cosmetics by large industries and the residues from the degradation of larger plastic objects.

After small gestures from many restaurants and bars around the world that have completely phased them out, examples of supermarket chains like Coop have reduced the use of plastic in their private label products, joining the European Commission campaign (pending a directive banning it completely), the MSC announcement is a new sign that can make the difference.

Costa Maya, Mexico. Image: Nazar Skladanyi Shutterstock

The initiative is part of MSC’s plastics reduction program and starts immediately: for example, at the end of 2018 all plastic straws will be replaced with 100% compostable and biodegradable alternatives, which will be supplied at the customer’s request. , as drinks will not be served with straw by default, and the same will apply to shore offices and during excursions.

Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises, also announced that “Another step forward will be to eliminate plastic from the entire supply chain, which is why we have asked all of our suppliers to be our partners on this journey.. “. “We are evaluating – said Vago – the possibility of working with a leading certification company in the world to ensure that all remaining plastic items, for which there are no alternatives, are recycled in a real and correct way. . In this way, wherever our boats are used, it will be possible to ensure that all plastic items not only impact the sea, but also on land, for the benefit of populations and communities. territories that welcome us.. “