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How CLIA members handle waste


Many operational wastes may be hazardous or may otherwise require special handling.  CLIA Members have agreed to ensure that all waste of this nature is appropriately categorized and landed in accordance with the local requirements and only where an acceptable handling/disposal practice is in place.

CLIA Members have agreed on the need to identify and segregate hazardous wastes aboard cruise vessels for individual handling and management, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. CLIA Members have further agreed that hazardous wastes are not to be commingled or mixed with other waste streams. The following specific measures have been identified as best industry practices.


Photo Processing, including X-ray development fluid waste:

CLIA Members agree to prevent the discharge of silver into the marine environment through the use of the best available technology to reduce the silver content of the waste stream to levels specified by prevailing regulations. Photo chemical waste shall not be discharged overboard or commingled with any other waste water. Otherwise, they are to treat all photo processing and x-ray development fluid waste (treated or untreated) as a hazardous waste and land ashore in accordance with local legislation.

Many CLIA Members have installed digital X-ray and photo processing alternatives to further reduce the generated waste.


Dry-cleaning waste fluids and contaminated materials:

Shipboard dry cleaning facilities typically use a chlorinated solvent and produce a small amount of waste. This waste is comprised of dirt, oils, filters material, and spent solvent. This material is classified as hazardous or special waste and is only to be disposed of ashore as required by law or regulation. Some CLIA Members have replaced solvent based dry cleaning equipment with similar systems using non-toxic solvents. Others have installed “wet cleaning” processes, which do not utilize any solvents and therefore do not produce hazardous waste.


Electronic waste (E-waste):

Rapid changes in technology mean that more and more electronic items are replaced and discarded continually.  Electronic waste, also known as E-waste, is known to contain low levels of toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, silver and selenium. To dispose of these products in a sound manner, CLIA Members agree to collect and recycle used electronic equipment generated aboard with reputable vendors known to properly handle this waste. E- waste accepted for recycling includes the following: 

  • Computer monitors and televisions
  • Personal computers, keyboards, hard drives, printers and printer cartridges
  • VCRs, audio and video equipment
  • Communication equipment such as cellular telephones and hand-held radios
  • Smoke detectors (non-ionizing)


Print shop waste fluids:

Print shop waste may contain hazardous waste. Printing solvents, inks and cleaners may contain hydrocarbons, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and/or heavy metals that can be harmful. Recent advances in printing technology and the substitution of chemicals that are less hazardous reduce the volume of print shop waste generated and the impact of these waste products.

CLIA Members are to utilize, whenever possible, printing methods and printing process chemicals that produce less hazardous waste volume. Shipboard print operators are to be trained to minimize printing waste. Alternative printing inks, such as soy based, non-chlorinated or hydrocarbon-based ink products, are to be used whenever possible.

CLIA Members have further agreed that all print shop waste, including waste solvents, cleaners, and cleaning cloths, is to be treated as hazardous waste, if such waste contains chemical components that may be considered hazardous by regulatory definitions and that all other waste may be treated as non-hazardous.


Photo copying and laser printer cartridges:

The increased use of laser and photo copying equipment onboard results in the generation of a number of used toner and ink cartridges. Only such ink, toner and printing/copying cartridges that contain non-hazardous chemical components are to be used. In recognition of CLIA Members’ goal of waste minimization, cartridges should, whenever possible, be returned to the supplier or an alternative facility for recycling and reuse.


Unused and outdated pharmaceuticals:

In general, ships carry varying amounts of pharmaceuticals in their medical centers. The pharmaceuticals that are carried range from over-the-counter products such as anti-fungal creams to prescription drugs such as epinephrine. Each ship stocks an inventory based on its itinerary and the demographics of its passenger base. All pharmaceuticals are managed to ensure that their efficacy is optimized and that disposal is done in an environmentally responsible manner.

When disposing of pharmaceuticals, the method used is to be consistent with established and applicable regulations. Furthermore, most regulatory jurisdictions have a posting of listed pharmaceuticals that must be considered hazardous waste once the date has expired or the item is no longer acceptable for patient use.

Stocks of such listed pharmaceuticals should, when possible, be returned to the vendor prior to the date of expiration. Pharmaceuticals that are being returned and have not reached their expiration date are shipped using ordinary practices for new products.

CLIA Members have agreed that all expired listed pharmaceuticals are to be handled in accordance with established guidance.  For example, in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a report that clarifies the fact that residuals, such as epinephrine, found in syringes after injections are not considered an acutely hazardous waste, by definition, and may be disposed of appropriately in sharps containers.  Additionally, all CLIA Members have agreed to adhere to all Universal Precautions when handling sharps.

CLIA Members are to employ one or more of the following practices when disposing of pharmaceuticals:

  • establish a reverse distribution system for returning unexpired, unopened non-narcotic pharmaceuticals to the original vendor;
  • appropriately destroy narcotic pharmaceuticals onboard the ship, in a manner that is witnessed and recorded;
  • offload listed pharmaceuticals in accordance with local regulations. Listed pharmaceuticals are hazardous wastes with chemical compositions that prevent them from being incinerated or disposed of through the ship’s wastewater treatment plant; and/or
  • dispose of other non-narcotic and non-listed pharmaceuticals through onboard incineration or landing ashore.


Fluorescent and mercury vapor lamp bulbs:

CLIA Members agree to prevent the release of mercury into the environment from spent fluorescent and mercury vapor lamps by assuring proper recycling or by using other acceptable means of disposal.

Fluorescent and mercury vapor lamps contain small amounts of mercury that could potentially be harmful to human health and the environment. To prevent human exposure and contamination of the environment, these lamps are to be handled in an environmentally safe manner. Recycling of mercury from lamps and other mercury containing devices is the preferred handling method and is encouraged by various authorities. The recycling of fluorescent lamps and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps keeps potentially hazardous materials out of landfills, saves landfill space, and reduces raw materials production needs.

Disposal of the glass tubes can be accomplished by (1) processing with shipboard lamp crusher units that filter and absorb the mercury vapor through H.E.P.A. and activated carbon, or (2) by keeping the glass tubes intact for recycling ashore. The intact lamps or crushed bulbs are classified when they are shipped to a properly permitted recycling facility; as such, testing is not required. The filters are to be disposed of as hazardous waste, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.


Other mercury containing products:

Where feasible, CLIA Members are to reduce the use of mercury-containing products. Any product that contains mercury is to be landed ashore as hazardous or special waste, as appropriate.



If not properly disposed of, spent batteries may constitute a hazardous waste stream. Most of the large batteries are used in Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems, in lifeboats and tenders and standby generators. Small batteries used in flashlights, microphones and other equipment and by passengers’ personal use, account for the rest.

CLIA Members agree to recycle batteries whenever possible.

Spent batteries are to be collected and returned for recycling and/or disposal in accordance with prevailing regulations. Discarded batteries are to be isolated from the other waste streams to prevent potentially toxic materials from inappropriate disposal. The wet-cell battery-recycling program is to be kept separate from the dry- battery collection process. Intact wet-cell batteries are to be returned to the supplier, when possible. Dry cell batteries are to be manifested to a licensed firm for recycling.

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