Friday, 4 October 2019

Judge grills Carnival about plastic bottles

Judge grills Carnival about plastic bottles

Image result for Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Carnival Corp. and its passengers used 50 million plastic beverage bottles last year, a figure that shows the magnitude of the challenge large cruise companies face in eliminating single-use plastics.
The number was disclosed for the first time by William Burke, Carnival's chief maritime officer, who was being questioned by U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz in a status conference discussion.
Activists fear that disposable plastics end up in the ocean, in large collections such as the 618,000-square-mile Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which includes 79,000 tons of discarded plastic.
The status conference was to brief Seitz on Carnival's progress in implementing new environmental compliance programs required in its ongoing probation from a 2016 pollution case.
A figure for the number of plastic bottles Carnival consumes became an issue because Carnival did not provide the number to prosecutors in the case in its statistical disclosure about single-use plastics.
Instead, prosecutors said Carnival merely asserted that most plastic bottles are recycled, obviating the need to provide a count. 
Richard Udell, a senior litigation counsel with the environmental crimes section of the Justice Department, said the response was symptomatic of a corporate culture at Carnival that doesn't take environmental compliance seriously.
"How do we know they're recycled," Udell said, "and not thrown back in the ocean or sent to a landfill?" He asserted that Carnival ships offload trash in many less developed countries with weak regulatory agencies. "We think that not knowing is not a solution here," he said.
Burke said that Carnival's confidence that the plastic is recycled stems from the fact that vendors pay to take it.
Udell said Carnival had not previously disclosed that and requested data about the prices Carnival receives.
Carnival did provide prosecutors with an account of other types of single-use plastic consumed by its fleet in 2018. Company-wide, it purchased 67 million plastic straws, 37 million garbage bags, 18 million plastic yoghurt containers, 16 million plastic cups and 14 million individual amenity bottles.
Burke said he didn't think beverage bottles were slipping through Carnival's waste-management machinery to end up in the ocean. "The stuff we're having trouble with is the small stuff, the toothpicks and straws that are hard to find," he said.
In July, Carnival said that it would "significantly eliminate its purchase and consumption of nonessential single-use plastics by the end of 2021." The effort was part of a deal it reached with prosecutors to avoid being in violation of its probation.

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