MSC Cruises chose World Oceans Day to publish its ’2021 Sustainability Report’.
While the past year has again been marked by the challenges brought by the pandemic, MSC Cruises claimed that it had made significant progress in its sustainability practices.
The cruise company’s sustainability action plan, developed with the active engagement of employees and external partners, established six key workstreams across the business: transitioning to net-zero emissions, scrutinising resource use and waste, supporting people, investing in sustainable tourism, building greener terminals, and procuring sustainably.
Actions are accompanied by goals, with measurable targets. Where possible, these align with relevant industry-approved metrics. These six key workstreams fall into the company’s four focus areas of sustainability – Planet, People, Place, and Procurement.
MSC Cruises’ Sustainability Advisory Board, which is chaired by Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, is responsible for ensuring the continued relevance of the sustainability strategy and for reviewing progress, guided and supported by a sustainability team.
Vago said: “While navigating our way through the extraordinary turbulence of the past two years, we have kept focused on sustainable business practices and on protecting our guests, employees and the communities in which we operate.
“Today more than ever, we recognise the vital importance of our environment, and a healthy and viable planet. We are firmly committed to achieving our long-term goal of zero-impact cruise operations by 2050 and we are well advanced on this journey,
“At the same time, as a company and an industry we are investing heavily in the accelerated development of environmental technologies and solutions that don’t exist just yet to make these objectives achievable. It must be recognised that for this endeavour, we also need the full engagement of Governments and other public and private entities to ensure, for example, that the right infrastructure exists on land and green fuels become available at scale for our ships around the world. This we cannot do alone,” he stressed.
Linden Coppell, MSC Cruises’ Sustainability Director, added, “The appropriateness and relevance of our sustainability strategy and action plans have been confirmed through a materiality assessment requiring engagement with employees, guests and other key external stakeholders, and helping us to prioritise our sustainability topics.
“For each one of them, we have established clear metrics against which to measure progress. Through our future annual sustainability reports we will be held to account in achieving our targets,” he said.
Last year, progress was achieved in all areas of MSC Cruises’ Sustainability Action Plan.
The highlights were:
Transitioning to net-zero emissions
Energy efficient operations across the fleet support a net zero journey. In 2021, the company conducted advanced trials of energy efficiency measures on ’MSC Grandiosa’, cutting emissions by 8%, compared to design performance. ”We are committed to replicating these measures across the rest of the fleet<” MSC said.
The aim is to limit SOx, NOx and particulates, particularly in ports. By the end of last year, 14 vessels were fitted with hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems, reducing SOx by 98%. The three newest ships have selective catalytic converters (SCRs), which convert NOx into harmless nitrogen and water.
By the end of 2021, seven out of 19 ships, including all the new ships, had been fitted with shore power capability. This enables on board engines to be switched off, cutting emissions. MSC said it was committed to using these systems whenever shore power is available.
A key step in the net zero journey is collaborating with technology providers to support and test new energy systems, as well as new lower or zero emissions fuels. MSC is also working closely with governments to encourage effective policy measures to support an industry-wide transition.
Speed has a major impact on emissions. In 2021, the company carried out a thorough review of our itineraries, resulting in an average speed reduction of over 2 kn, compared to 2019.
Scrutinising resource use and waste
MSC aims to reduce on board water demand by 3% per year for each ship by a combination of monitoring usage, fitting water saving technologies, and training and educating crew.
All of MSC Cruises’ vessels are fitted with approved and certified ballast water treatment systems. In 2021, 100% of ballast water was filtered and UV treated before being discharged at sea, to ensure that it does not contain harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens, which can damage the local environment.
Supporting its people
In 2021, the company continued to invest in the wellbeing of the employees, both on board and ashore, keeping them safe and supporting them physically and mentally.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the extensive training programmes were maintained, to ensure that the teams were compliant with mandatory systems and prepared for the introduction of new technologies and future changes.
MSC also remained committed to building a healthy and diverse work culture across the company.
Investing in sustainable tourism
The shore excursions team has worked with tour operators to identify excursions founded on strong sustainability principles. Known as ‘Protectours’, these excursions are specifically designed to educate guests.
Around 70% of these tours include low impact transportation, including walking, cycling or kayaking, and many make a direct contribution to the environment through supporting species or habitat protection.
MSC partnered with Travelife to deliver training and capacity building for all of the tour operators used. Travelife is an initiative for tourism companies committed to achieving sustainability: its specialised indicators, based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Industry Standard criteria, focus on supply chain impact and the tour operators’ responsibilities.
The company said that it was committed to playing its full part in protecting natural ecosystems, by supporting initiatives that promote responsible and sustainable tourism.
Through the MSC Foundation, wildlife protection and habitat regeneration – particularly for ocean species – are being supported, including around the company’s island destination, Ocean Cay.
Last year, the company also started working with several NGOs to identify new ways of avoiding whale strikes.
Building greener terminals
In 2021, MSC continued to invest in new sustainable terminal facilities, and work has progressed on several of these.
For example, the Durban Cruise Terminal in South Africa became operational in December, 2021. It was the first South African port to resume MSC Cruises itineraries since the start of the pandemic.
In addition, the construction of the new MSC Cruises terminal in Miami began in the summer of 2021 with a comprehensive environmental and social management system in place for its construction and subsequent operation.
A third new MSC Cruises terminal is under construction in Barcelona and is due to become operational in 2023.
MSC said that it was also committed to meeting LEED certification for all its new terminals. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a widely used global green building rating system. Its rigorous score-based systems ensure high levels of efficiency in building design and operation.
Finally, in 2021, MSC created a new internal committee dedicated to ensuring its approach to procurement had a positive impact on society and minimised damage to the environment.
It is comprised of heads of procurement, logistics and sustainability, and meets every two months to review operational standards across the company’s supply chain and to identify specific opportunities for positive change.