What it takes to keep it clean, keep it green

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Ernst Andersen’s job is to keep it clean, which sounds simple enough. But when you have environmental responsibility for a floating city, nothing is as easy as ABC.

“Many times people call me for stuff that’s not really in my job description,” says Andersen, environmental officer (EO) for Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, oceangoing home to more than 6,400 people when fully loaded with guests and crew.

While it makes perfect sense for the EO to remediate any issues with such green machines as the advanced emissions purification systems that “scrub” toxic sulphur dioxide from Anthem’s diesel exhaust, or the small but effective device that uses free radicals to kill invasive microorganisms in its ballast water, guests have also asked Andersen to care for injured birds found on outside decks.

Birds, after all, are part of the environment, so he accommodates the requests as best he can.

He has no typical days, and the same is true for the nights, when he continues to make himself visible and approachable – in effect, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean’s commitment to the environment.

Andersen serves under the rubric of ABC – Above and Beyond Compliance – the Royal Caribbean mandate to exceed environmental regulations on all its ships. It’s part of a broader commitment formalized in 1992 as Save the Waves®, requiring all employees to reduce, reuse and recycle waste material, never throw anything overboard and constantly look for innovative ways to practice responsible environmental stewardship.

After joining RCL and while working for several years as a boatswain aboard several of the line’s older ships, Andersen cross-trained with experienced EOs, studied conservation -related subjects online and eventually was chosen to go through the company’s environmental training program. That led to his position as EO aboard Anthem of the Seas, one of the Quantum class of ships.

As EO, Andersen is responsible for management of all shipboard waste – from food and non-food to the disposal of sewage and gray water.

Emergency response to accidental spills, safe management of potable and recreational water, recordkeeping for all shipboard activities related to company environmental policies, and use of disinfectants and other chemicals – any and all procedural, mechanical, operational and educational aspects of the supersized Anthem of the Seas are on Andersen’s roster of duties and oversight.

And every day he also talks, you might say preaches, to guests about the company’s gospel of environmental stewardship.

“When they see our dedication and I talk about all the exciting things we’re doing,” Andersen says, “I haven’t seen a group of people that is not impressed.”