Making Cruise Ship Laundry Sustainable – Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo

Making Cruise Ship Laundry Sustainable – Interview with Roser Zapata

ALMACO Group is a full turnkey contractor for the new construction and modernization of Accommodation and Catering areas for the Marine and Offshore industries. ALMACO builds complete interiors of marine vessels and offshore units. These include designing and building cabins for Swan Hellenic vessels, as well as building galleys and provision stores for Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Adventure. ALMACO also builds wet units, public spaces, refrigeration machinery and cruise ship laundry solutions.

Roser Zapata is a well-known Laundry Business Expert at ALMACO’s partner Girbau, a world-leading laundry solution provider. In this interview, she answers important questions about how the marine industry can adopt sustainable solutions in their laundry processes to meet current protocols and future demands.

What is the hospitality industry doing to be more sustainable in its laundry processes?

In recent years, there has been an exponential growth in environmental awareness in the hospitality industry. They work hard to pass on this awareness and rational use of fabrics to their clients and guests. One example includes messages in cabins that encourage guests to consider reusing the towels before requesting new ones. This also applies to bedding in holiday hotels or passenger ships where the stays are longer.

Furthermore, hotels and passenger ships pay more and more attention to their stock of towels, sheets, tablecloths, serviettes and more. They bear in mind how often linen needs washing and how to make fabrics last as long as possible. They also opt for more natural fibres, such as towels in 100% cotton or bamboo fibre.

Laundries also reduce environmental impact by cutting their water and electricity consumption and looking for ways to wash at lower temperatures. Big hotels or passenger ships have shifted from using washing machines to batch washers. This allows water use to be reduced by about 60%. Moreover, increasingly energy-efficient drying processes are being used that spin at higher speeds to aid the drying and ironing processes.

Want to learn more about how cruising can be more sustainable? Check out Returning to a more Sustainable Cruise Industry.

How can laundry system suppliers help passenger ships to be more sustainable in their washing processes?

On passenger or cruise ships, space is scarcer than facilities on land. Therefore, it is very important to plan laundries well and install systems and machinery that are as efficient as possible. In this respect, batch washers are a very suitable option for vessels of this kind. Their internal water recirculation systems enable them to make better use of both water and detergents. This means they contribute to both cost savings and sustainability.

How can we ensure that increasing health and safety demands don’t cause even more harm to our environment? What role do chemicals play in this?

By using chemicals certified with the Ecolabel, which is the highest environmental certification at European level, it is now possible to disinfect and wash while keeping an eye on the environment. Ecolabel chemicals allow washing at lower temperatures with the same guarantees of disinfection as with other traditional chemicals. Thus, always using these certified chemicals is one way to ensure that the increasing demands in terms of health and safety don’t end up affecting our planet even more.  

What new sustainability standards or targets will cruise ship laundries have to meet in the near future?

In the future, it will be very important, or even obligatory, for all cruise ship laundries to have systems to re-use wastewater as well as their own treatment systems to handle the water that goes down the drain. This is key for two reasons. Firstly, that the water used is taken fully advantage of for as long as possible in the washing process. Secondly, the water that ends up in the drains and eventually enters seas or rivers, does so in the best possible condition.

ocean waves showing trail left by a cruise ship
In the future, it will be key for laundry machines to treat wastewater before it is released into the ocean

What can be done to reduce the presence of pollutants and stop them from reaching the sea?

Contamination by microplastics, associated with washing synthetic linen, accounts for 35% of the primary microplastics found in our oceans. They represent a danger to the marine environment and all the creatures that live in it. Drastically reducing the microplastics in the marine environment is a major challenge faced by the laundry sector. In order to fully respond to this challenge, the laundry industry still needs more research and development. One way is to implement washing machinery and systems that limit and eliminate pollutants. This means that the release of microplastics during the washing processes needs to be impeded, but it also means that the microplastics that are released must be caught in the washing machines themselves and thereby prevented from ending up in the sea.

ALMACO Group is an advisory board member for Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo. Find out more about Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo here.

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