On June 8, World Oceans Day, MSC Cruises, the cruise division of global shipper MSC Group, published its 2021 Sustainability Report, which states that while the past year has been marked by the challenges brought by the pandemic, the Geneva-based cruise line made progress in its sustainability practices.
MSC’s Sustainability Action Plan, developed with the active engagement of employees and external partners, establishes six key workstreams across the business: transitioning to net-zero emissions, scrutinizing resource use and waste, supporting our people, investing in sustainable tourism, building greener terminals, and procuring sustainably.
Actions within the plan are accompanied by goals, with measurable targets. Where possible, these align with relevant industry-approved metrics. The six key workstreams fall into the company’s stated four focus areas of sustainability: planet, people, place and procurement.
The Sustainability Advisory Board for MSC Group’s cruise division, which includes the MSC Cruises brand and is chaired by Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, is responsible for ensuring the continued relevance of the sustainability strategy and for reviewing progress.
“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,” Vago said in a statement. “Today more than ever, we recognize 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,” he continued. “It must be recognized that for this endeavor 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.”
Linden Coppell, MSC Cruises’ Sustainability Director, added that the appropriateness and relevance of the company’s sustainability strategy and action plans were confirmed through a materiality assessment requiring engagement with employees, guests and key stakeholders, helping MSC prioritize its sustainability topics.
“For each one of them, we have established clear metrics against which to measure progress,” he said. “Through our future annual sustainability reports we will be held to account in achieving our targets.”
Among the highlights of the company’s Sustainability Action Plan progress in 2021 are:
• Transitioning to net-zero emissions. In 2021, MSC Cruises conducted advanced trials of energy efficiency measures on MSC Grandiosa, cutting emissions by 8% compared to design performance. MSC has committed to replicating these measures across the rest of its fleet and aims to limit SOx, NOx and particulates, particularly in ports. By the end of 2021, 14 of its vessels were fitted with hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems, reducing SOx by 98%. Our three newest ships have selective catalytic converters, which convert NOx into harmless nitrogen and water.
• Scrutinizing resource use and waste. The company said aims to reduce onboard water demand by 3% per year for each ship, through a combination of monitoring usage, fitting water saving technologies, and training and educating crew.
• Investing in sustainable tourism. MSC’s shore excursions team has worked with tour operators to identify excursions founded on strong sustainability principles. Known as ‘Protectours’, the excursions are specifically designed to educate our 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.
• Building greener terminals. The Durban Cruise Terminal in South Africa became operational in December 2021, and was the first South African port to resume MSC Cruises itineraries since the start of the pandemic. Construction of the new MSC Cruises terminal in Miami began in the summer of 2021 with an environmental and social management system in place for the construction and subsequent operation of the terminal. A third new MSC Cruises terminal is under construction in Barcelona and is due to be operational in 2023.
• Procuring sustainably. In 2021, MSC Cruises created a new internal committee that the company says is dedicated to ensuring its approach to procurement has a positive impact on society and minimizes damage to the environment. It is comprised of heads of procurement, logistics and sustainability, and meets every two months to review operational standards across our supply chain and to identify specific opportunities for positive change.