Recycling massive amounts of waste from cruise ships is helping to divert almost everything away from landfills
It’s not surprising that since cruise ships are like small towns travelling through some of the world’s most beautiful ecosystems, they have been singled out for environmental scrutiny. In response, companies such as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Celebrity Cruises Inc. have structured their operations to maximize efficiency and drastically reduce waste — and when their ships dock in B.C., they rely on Tymac Launch Service to help ensure their goals are met.
That’s because Tymac, which has provided taxi, towing, barging and many other marine services in Vancouver since 1930, has become increasingly known in cruise ship circles as a company that specializes in waste removal.
More importantly, since launching the service in the wake of Expo 86, Tymac has diverted an increasing amount of waste away from landfills and to co-gen energy plants, compost producers, recycling facilities, and even charities.
James Collins, environmental, health and safety manager for Tymac, says, “When we began waste removal it was at a time when recycling venues were extremely limited, and we would typically fill two bins with everything that came off the ships — nothing was separated. But our ability to recycle has grown to the point where today, with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, we’ve reduced the volume going to landfill to just about zero — and we hope to make that the case for our other clients in the foreseeable future.”
Tymac’s efforts have yielded impressive environmental savings. For example, in 2017, over 16,000 cubic metres of waste was diverted from landfills, which led to saving 18,000 barrels of oil, 11.5 million litres of water, 8,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide and an estimated 8,000 trees — all of which otherwise would have been expended as a result of the landfill process.
Tymac also tries to repurpose as much of the waste as possible. “In fact, we’ve just sent 40 sofas to Habitat for Humanity,” says Steve Hnatko, Tymac’s vice-president and general manager.
Hnatko and Collins view Royal Caribbean and Celebrity as being enormously forward thinking in their sustainability efforts. The former says, “They have onboard compactors and balers, and they efficiently sort and package their waste.” From there, Tymac redistributes the material to recycling and energy generating facilities throughout Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
“The only challenge is the availability of recycling venues, with plastic recycling being a particular task,” says Collins. “However, we’re constantly looking for new options — we’re currently trying to determine an alternative use for broken crockery, for example — and we have great partners supporting us.”
Hnatko concludes, “Diverting waste from landfill is an important objective for any industry to achieve, and it’s fulfilling for us to work with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and many other lines to help reduce their environmental footprint.”
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