Waste Management

Keeping Waste Out of Landfills

With 4.8 million guests on our ships each year, it’s easy to generate a lot of waste. We are committed to managing it as efficiently as possible with a keen eye on sustainability.

In 2007, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. made a commitment to reduce our ships’ waste-to-landfill levels by 70 percent by 2015 and increase recycling level by 125 percent. We are pleased with the progress that we are making toward achieving that goal.

As part of our aggressive waste management operation, we hand-sort the waste from every trash receptacle on the ship, including those in staterooms. We carefully separate materials that can be recycled, and when our ships arrive at ports in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Tampa or Port Canaveral, Florida the materials are offloaded to the appropriate places. Recyclable clothing and books are donated, and dry waste and internationally regulated food-contacted waste that cannot be directly recycled are sent to a waste-to-energy facility where they are converted into electricity.


We are very proud of the strides made in 2013 by Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas when they started repurposing, recycling, donating and implementing waste-to-energy conversion of 100 percent of their operational waste.

That effort was promptly echoed by 10 additional ships in our fleet while they were starting and ending cruises in Florida ports.

Special Waste

Although we produce only very small quantities of hazardous or special waste (as defined by the U.S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act), their management is still one of our highest priorities.

Our policy strictly forbids disposal of hazardous waste in trash containers, in gray water systems such as sinks and drains, or in black water systems such as toilets. There is a specific and well-defined process for handling hazardous or special waste products.

Only qualified contractors and hazardous waste vendors who are knowledgeable about our strict disposal processes are permitted to handle the hazardous waste generated at our facilities.

The handlers segregate the waste into leak proof containers to be sent to an approved shoreside disposal facility. Certain types of medical waste can be incinerated onboard.

Recycling is the most sustainable option for disposing of hazardous waste, so wherever possible we recycle items such as spent fluorescent bulbs and batteries that would be classified as hazardous if bought ashore as garbage. At destinations that have no approved recycling facility, the ships’ hazardous materials are packaged and stored onboard until they can be transferred and unloaded at ports that do.

Waste and Chemical Management

Through our chemicals management process, we are able to identify the most sustainable and effective chemical products for use throughout the fleet, thereby reducing potential harm to the environment. We list chemicals that have been approved for use on our ships in a centralized master RCL Chemical Purchasing List. This refers to the Chemwatch database, which contains standardized, easily retrievable information about each chemical; its proper handling and use; the manufacturer’s ratings for health, flammability and reactivity; and minimum requirements for personal protective equipment.