Plastic, pollution and cleaner oceans

Plastic pollution is the single largest threat to our oceans. By 2050 there will be more plastic waste than fish in the sea. Hurtigruten is determined to stop the trend – and was the first global travel company to ban single-use plastic.

Every minute, 15 tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans. Operating in some of the world’s most pristine areas for 125 years, Hurtigruten is experiencing this devastating development firsthand. We have seen the climate change before it was global news. We have seen how pollution, discharge and litter directly affects nature, wildlife and local communities.

As the largest expedition cruise company in the world and the most important player in both the Arctic and Antarctica, we take the responsibility to lead by example and move the industry forward. That is why we advocate for stricter rules and regulations, and it’s why we will become the world’s first plastic-free shipping company.

  • Red ship in a body of water

    Changing the world of adventure

    We are constantly enhancing how we reduce, recycle and handle our waste – and are sharing everything we learn along the way. Our guests and crew collect tons of waste from beaches every year and are educated and trained in conservation. Hurtigruten is spreading awareness about pollution in every way we can, including partnerships, organisations, research and real time monitoring of the oceans.

    Hurtigruten is investing in cutting-edge technology and advancing innovations throughout our entire organisation. We are building the world’s greenest and most advanced fleet of expedition cruise ships and are changing the world of adventure travel. We are continuously drilling down into every detail to ensure that we keep improving. 

  • PLASTIC BAN: One million plastic straws a year are among the single use plastic items that will removed from all Hurtigruten ships this summer, as the company imposes a ban on single use plastic. Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam, Hotel Manager Kristian Skar and rest of Hurtigruten employees are already removing plastic items from MS Richard With (in the background) and other Hurtigruten ships.
    Photo: Ørjan Bertelsen Photo

    Banning single-use plastic

    The fight against plastic pollution has been a focus for Hurtigruten for years. 15 metric tons of plastic ends up in the world oceans every minute of the day and if the trend continues, this number will double in the next 10 years. This means that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.

    Hurtigruten will become the world’s first plastic-free cruise company. And Hurtigruten was the first major travel company to remove single-use plastic from all our ships, restaurants and hotels. Plastic straws have been replaced by metal, stir pins will no longer be used – and the same with plastic cups wrapped in plastic, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, plastic lids on coffee cups, plastic toothpicks, plastic aprons, single-use packaging of butter and all other single-use plastic items that Hurtigruten’s 500,000 guests and 2,500 employees encounter on a day-to-day basis.

    The single-use plastic ban also is also being imposed on the hotels, restaurants and other establishments of our land-based operations. Plastic packaging has either been removed or replaced by environmentally friendly alternatives made of paper, metal or other biodegradable and sustainable materials. And most important, this means a huge cut in single-use items all together.

    No one can win the war on plastic alone. At Hurtigruten, we work actively to spread the experiences from our plastic reduction program and engage our guests, allies, competitors, local communities, authorities and anyone else who wants to join the fight. We have also implemented stricter sustainability demands on our suppliers, challenging them to reduce or stop the use of single-use plastic.

  • An island in the middle of a lush green hillside

    Caring for the sea

    Our vessels produce their own fresh water through onboard desalination and purification technology. We reuse heat from engine coolant and the vessels´ exhaust systems to warm up the hot water tanks on board. By doing so, we save power equivalent to the consumption of 6700 households per year. We have also introduced new automatic technology to reduce food waste, as part of our sustainability and waste programs.

    We work to maintain stringent policies regarding discharge into the sea, including a ban on discharging food waste, grey water, bilge water and black water in Hjørundfjorden, Geirangerfjord/Storfjorden and Lyngenfjorden - and other vulnerable areas. 

  • MS Trollfjord
    Photo: Jill MCLaughlin - Guest image Photo

    Real time environmental monitoring

    The fight against marine litter and pollution in our oceans is bigger and broader than the fight against plastic waste. Knowledge and research play an important role, and our fleet is equipped to monitor the oceans and share the results with watchdogs and scientists all over the world in real time. We monitor everything from water content to temperature, and have special sensors that can detect even the smallest oil spill both while sailing and during port calls.

  • A man standing on a rocky beach

    Cleaning beaches

    The most important everyday task of our crews and guests is to stop the waste before it hits the oceans. But sometimes, we need to do some first aid as well. On a daily basis, Hurtigruten Expedition teams take guests on excursions and hikes somewhere truly spectacular. On every landing at every destination, our Expedition Teams and guests are encouraged to take part in collecting waste. In addition, Hurtigruten Expedition Teams arrange larger beach cleanups on carefully selected spots. This results in the removal of several metric tons of waste every year.

  • A penguin in the snow

    Spreading awareness – creating ambassadors

    Hurtigruten wants to create a deeper understanding of the areas we explore and the opportunities and challenges they are facing. We aim to create ambassadors for every destination on every voyage. Guests are joined by Hurtigruten’s highly skilled and experienced Expedition Teams. With fields of expertise ranging from biology and polar survival to the Northern Lights and sustainability, they indulge in talks, lectures and discussions about local cultures, wildlife, nature and pollution – such as plastic and microplastic and how this affects the oceans. This is to further increase our guests´ knowledge about these issues. Through the Young Explorer program, Hurtigruten introduce and engage young guests in beach cleanups, special lectures and other sustainability activities.

    Hurtigruten is proud to engage, support and cooperate with organisations and initiatives like Clean Arctic Alliance, European Climate Foundation, Norwegian Polar Institute - the main research organisation focusing on polar bears living on Svalbard, Bellona Foundation and the Clean Up Svalbard program. In addition, we have established Hurtigruten Foundation to raise awareness and reward local and global initiatives that make a positive impact.

  • A boat is docked next to a body of water

    Managing waste and stopping spills

    All waste on all our ships and hotels is of course sorted for recycling. Together with partners we work to install better sorting facilities on board and to ensure adequate infrastructure at key ports to collect and recycle waste from our operations. We also work to influence ports and authorities to provide better waste management.

    We maintain stringent policies regarding discharge into the sea, including a ban on discharging food waste, grey water, bilge water and black water in vulnerable areas. We are of course also in compliance with the Ballast Water Convention.

  • Local cod from Norway's Coastal Kitchen on board Hurtigruten

    Reducing food waste through innovation

    Food production monitoring
    When serving over 4 million meals each year, even a tiny reduction in food waste can make a huge difference. For us, tiny is not enough. That’s why we have pledged to reduce food waste by 30 per cent by 2021. We have implemented a digital registration and real-time measurement of all stages of our food production to increase our knowledge and minimize food waste. Our early results show more than a 20 percent expected reduction in food waste.

    Food systems sustainability efforts
    Hurtigruten has signed a three-year agreement with the EAT foundation, whose mission is to catalyse a food system transformation through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships. Our partnership aims at exploring other initiatives to improve our sustainability efforts within food systems and broaden the on board food offering.

    Food traceability
    What we take out of the water is equally important. You should know where your food is coming from. When serving you a local cheese in Lofoten, we can take you to the farm and meet the goats. Needless to say, Hurtigruten maintains a ban on all red-listed seafood, and we demand third party certification of all fish purchased (MSC, ASC or equivalent).

  • Cruise with MS Fridtjof Nansen in Svalbard

    Reducing fuel consumption and banning heavy fuel oil

    Hurtigruten’s ultimate goal is to operate our ships completely emission-free. By introducing the world’s first hybrid powered cruise ships, we are getting close. By retrofitting existing ships with large battery packs and LNG engines, we are getting even closer.

    But while we are moving boundaries and pushing the industry forward, we need to make sure our ships use as little fuel as possible. And even more important, use the cleanest fuel possible. Reducing fuel consumption is one of our single most important environmental tasks. As opposed to most other shipping companies, none of Hurtigruten’s ships use cheap and polluting heavy fuel oil (HFO).

    Why? Because as sea ice continues to melt away, Arctic waters are becoming increasingly navigable to vessels running on heavy fuel oil (HFO). HFO, which is one of the world’s dirtiest fuels, is not only extremely difficult to clean up in the event of a spill, but also produces higher levels of air and climate pollutants than other marine fuels. Given the severe risks that heavy fuel oil poses to polar environments, the international shipping community has already banned its use in the Antarctic. We believe it is now time to provide the Arctic, with its unique local communities and fragile ecosystems, the same protection.

    With leading environmental agencies such as Clean Arctic Alliance and European Climate Foundation, Hurtigruten is spearheading a campaign to ban the use of HFO in Arctic waters.

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