The 'world's largest cruise ship' has created a high-tech recycling system to process millions of pounds of water, food, waste and avoid polluting the oceans
Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas has a high-tech recycling system.
The Symphony of the Seas is a 361-meter — nearly 1,200 feet — cruise liner.
The ship's crew can process up to 13,000 pounds of glass in a week-long cruise.
Cruise ships produce a lot of trash, but there are no garbage trucks to come and pick up waste when they're out at sea. So, where does all the garbage go?
The Symphony of the Seas is one of the largest cruise ships in the world. Built-in 2018, the Royal Caribbean ship is 1,188 feet long and weighs a total of 228,081 gross tons, according to the cruise line.
Waste disposal is a problem cruise lines have been dealing with for years.
Princess Cruise Lines was fined $40 million in 2016 after pleading guilty to seven felony charges for illegally dumping oiled waste into the sea, according to The New York Times.
In 2019, a federal judge ordered Carnival Cruise Lines to pay $20 million in fines for dumping plastic waste into the ocean and other environmental violations, NPR reported.
Cruise lines started designing ways to purify water and handle waste inside their ships.
Stewart Chiron, a cruise ship expert, told Insider that Carnival Cruise Lines issues "really brought the need for better technology so that she ships can operate more efficiently."
"Up until now, the options weren't available," Chiron said.
Cruise ships are notorious for disposing of waste in ways that are hazardous to the environment. In 2019, cruise ships dumped more than 3 million pounds of garbage in Juneau, Alaska, according to Alaska Public Media.
Carnival Cruise Lines' Symphony of the Seas is a "zero landfill ship," which means it uses recycling and water filtration to deal with its own waste.
Alex Mago, environmental officer for the Symphony of the Seas, told Insider that the waste management team separates the ship's trash into recyclables on a lower deck.
The ship's crew is made up of around 2,200 crew members, according to Royal Caribbean.
The ship's crew separates glass into colors and can process up to 13,000 lbs of glass for a week-long cruise.
Each one of the ship's 36 kitchens has a suction drain.
Food waste from Royal Caribbean cruises is dropped no less than 12 miles from land, according to the company's waste management guidelines.
"Food waste produced on board is sent to a pulper and pulverized to less than 25 mm, as per international standards, and discharged no closer than 12 nautical miles from land," the guidelines state.
Food waste is carried through a giant pipe to a food processor at the bottom of the ship, where it is incinerated.
The ship's crew crushes around 528 gallons of water bottles per week.
The ship is dependent on water bottles because cruise ships are not allowed to have water fountains for health and safety reasons.
Cardboard and aluminum cans are sent through a bailer.
The Symphony of the Seas has two incinerator rooms.
The ship's incinerator room has two incinerators and is manned around the clock by 10 crew members.
Cubes of aluminum trash are stored in a refrigerator to prevent the smell from spreading to other parts of the ship for up to seven days.
Grey water, from sinks, laundries, and drains and black water, from toilets, are mixed together in a water purification system before being dumped back into the sea.
The purification system runs several cleansing processes until the water is above the United States federal standard.
When the ship docs in Miami, the plastic, paper, and glass are offloaded to go to partner recycling facilities.
According to Royal Caribbean, the company recycled more than 14 billion pounds of waste in 2021.
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