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Costa Crociere and environmental care

Costa Cruises, Italy’s largest tourism group and Europe’s no. 1 cruise company, leads the European market not only in terms of Guest numbers, but also of its commitment to protecting the environment.

Costa Cruises not only operates in compliance with the environmental legislation and regulations in force, but also anticipates the introduction on a voluntary basis of possible solutions to improve environmental protection. The environmental management system in place on all Costa ships is the only one in the cruise sector to be developed on the basis of the UNI EN ISO 14001/2004 standard. As the Costa fleet is the only cruise fleet to fly the Italian flag, it is the only one subject to the frequently more stringent laws applied to Italian flag ships as regards the environment, safety and social responsibility.

Where possible Costa Cruises goes beyond current legislation, setting itself higher standards and establishing a system that is even stricter than local, national and international legislation and regulations, anticipating the introduction of possible solutions to improve environmental protection.

This commitment is recognised by the Green Star notation issued by RINA (the Italian Ship Registry). This voluntary notation goes beyond the limits imposed by current international Marpol regulations and has been assigned to all ships in the Costa fleet. In addition, the most recently built flagships, Costa Fascinosa and Costa Favolosa, have received “Green Plus” status from RINA, an evolution of the Green Star notation. Green Plus takes 11 possible sources of pollution on a ship into consideration (including waste, grey waters, black waters, machinery oil, CO2, ozone, greenhouse gasses, particulate matter, sulphur oxides, nitrogen, ballast water) and establishes stringent protection requirements for each of them.

Another example of Costa’s commitment to anticipating the introduction of possible solutions to protect the environment is represented by the latest ships to join the fleet (Costa Fascinosa, Costa Favolosa, Costa Deliziosa and Costa Luminosa), which are some of the first in the world to be ready for “cold ironing”. This system allows moored ships to receive power from on shore, meaning that their engines do not need to be left running to power on board generators. This reduces environmental impact still further when ships are in port.

Costa ships are some of the most advanced in the world, in terms of both their design and management, at protecting the environment and saving energy.

These are the main environmental protection operations performed on board:

  • separate collection for 100% of solid waste on board;

  • no solid waste disposal at sea (food suitably treated in a separate process);

  • no special waste disposal at sea;

  • recycling of glass, aluminium and paper;

  • most of the water used in Costa fleet ships is produced on board by desalinators;

  • black and grey waters are always discharged over 12 miles from the coast rather than the 3 miles required by law;

  • double separator for oily and bilge water;

  • “white box” for further verification of the oil content of water to discharge;

  • sampling and analysis of engine and generator emissions;

  • sampling and analysis of incinerator emissions;

  • electromagnetic emissions check (Guest and crew area);

  • subject to third party auditing.

Numerous procedures are also in place on Costa ships to reduce the consumption of power and fuel, and therefore the emissions produced.

Here is a short list of how Costa Cruises saves energy:

  • use of ecological silicon paints for the ship’s hull. These paints reduce the formation of micro-organisms on the hull, improving its hydrodynamic performance, without releasing toxic substances into the sea;

  • information campaign addressed both to the crew and Guests, to increase their awareness about not wasting power and water;

  • use of low power consumption LED lights;

  • osmosis systems to produce drinking water on board;

  • installation of a system that automatically adjusts the brightness of the ship’s external lighting according to available sunlight;

  • an economizer that uses the hot water produced by the engines to heat cabins and public areas;

  • optimisation of the air-conditioning system in public areas: the level of air-conditioning is adjusted automatically according to how many people are in the area and the outside temperature;

  • inverters to optimise the ship’s air-conditioning system and engine room ventilation;

  • key-card holders to turn on cabin lights only when Guests place their cabin cards in the special slot;

  • flow reducers for wash basins and showers in cabins to reduce water consumption;

  • swimming pool overflow system: improvement of the system that controls the water level in swimming pools to limit water consumption;

  • installation of automatic pneumatic valves to keep fuel temperature constant. This saves steam used for heating;

  • a system that automatically controls the temperature of the engine cooling water based on load;

  • periodical propeller cleaning programme to maintain good propulsion efficiency.

The important environmental results achieved by Costa Cruises are documented and described in the Social and Environmental Report ( The Social and Environmental Report is based on “B.E.S.T. 4” (Business Excellence Sustainable Task), the integrated system of four voluntary certification schemes that Costa, in a world first, received from RINA in 2004. It is a system that integrates the management of various aspects of the company regarding quality (UNI EN ISO 9001, 2000), the environment (UNI EN ISO 14001, 2004), safety (OHSAS 18001, 2007) and social responsibility (SA 8000, 2008, originating from the first voluntary pilot project in the maritime sector), ensuring the measurement of company performance and continuous improvement.

The sixth Social and Environmental Report (financial year December 2009/November 2010) describes the main environmental protection results achieved by Costa:

  • 26% increase since 2009 of the amount of garbage (paper, plastic, glass, metal) recycled in ports. A separated collection scheme is in place on all Costa ships covering 100% of solid waste, which is then unloaded in separated form as required by recovery and recycling programmes, where available. In 2010 Costa Cruises promoted new agreements in the ports at which the company’s ships call, which significantly increase the amount of recycled garbage.

  • Unique experiments are under way to extend Costa Cruises’ commitment to waste recovery. In September 2011 the European “Sustainable Cruise” project, led by Costa Cruises, was launched. On board the Costa Pacifica, for the first time in the maritime industry, “Sustainable Cruise” will treat organic waste (food) on an experimental basis in such a way as to transform it into a material that can be reused as compost or fuel. Other experiments will be performed on the recovery of packaging material and paper. The project will be concluded at the end of June 2014. “Sustainable Cruise” is financed by “LIFE”, the European Union’s funding instrument to support innovative environmental projects.

  • a reduction in the period 2007-2010 of about 11% in fuel consumption and therefore in the CO2 emissions produced. The reduction was achieved through a series of initiatives to save energy on board. They include the use of ecological silicon paints for the ship’s hull, which reduce the formation of micro-organisms on the hull, improving its hydrodynamic performance, without releasing toxic substances into the sea. Plus the use of low power consumption LED lights; systems that automatically adjust the brightness of the ship’s external lighting according to available sunlight; optimisation of the air-conditioning system in public areas, adjusting the level of air-conditioning automatically according to how many people are in the area and the outside temperature; the use of inverters to optimise the ship’s air-conditioning system and engine room ventilation. The results achieved by Costa Cruises were recognised on 25 November 2011 by the ABB Energy Efficiency Award 2011, which energy and automation technology leader ABB awards to companies with outstanding energy efficiency.

  • Costa fleet ships use products on board manufactured by Ecolab, the global leader in cleaning products and services that deliver the best results with the least possible environmental impact.

Costa Cruises’ social and environmental commitment is also demonstrated by other major initiatives.

The Company’s environmental policy, for example, prohibits its ships from discharging bilge water, even if suitably treated, in the “Whale Sanctuary”, an area of about 100,000 km2 in the Mar Ligure with a particularly high concentration of marine mammals.

In addition, since 2005 Costa Cruises has been working on a project organised by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission to monitor climate change in the Mediterranean.

Costa Cruises believes in responsible tourism and promotes this actively not only on board its ships but also on shore. The excursions available on itineraries are organised with the greatest possible respect for the environment. In 2012, Costa is offering about 300 excursions with a eco-tourism component, proposing visits to parks, reserves and natural sanctuaries, excursions with a limited impact on the ecosystem, and tours in development areas that aim to preserve the environment and sustain the well-being of the local population.

Costa Cruises’ commitment to the environment doesn’t limit itself to the company’s ships. Separated collection schemes are in operation both at the Company’s headquarters and the Palacrociere, the Savona terminal managed by Costa. The Costa Building, the Italian company’s new head office in Piazza Piccapietra in Genoa, inaugurated in summer 2010, is one of the first buildings in Italy with “zero on site emissions” of carbon dioxide, helping to keep the city’s air clean and achieving final consumption efficiency of 140% better than a “traditional” building.