18 November 2019

Eliminating 30 million plastic items per year from the Mein Schiff fleet

Plastic-free holidays aboard the Mein Schiff fleet: This is the vision underlying the plastic reduction programme launched by TUI Cruises last autumn. The results delivered in the first year of the WASTELESS programme are impressive: As many as 30 million plastic items per year are now saved aboard the Mein Schiff fleet. TUI Cruises is planning to eliminate all plastic and other single-use products or replace them with alternative products made from renewable or sustainable raw materials by the end of 2020. The objective of the programme is to actively contribute to the fight against the rising tide of plastic waste.

The cruise line has implemented measures in all areas on board its ships – in particular the hotel and hospitality areas. Passengers are offered straws made from sugar cane or glass and wooden cocktail stirrers, while plastic cocktail sticks have been eliminated. Morning newspapers ordered by passengers are no longer delivered to the cabin door in a plastic wrapping, but hung on the door handle with recyclable hemp string. In the ships’ shops, all plastic bags have been eliminated and replaced with Mein Schiff beach bags made from recycled PET or recyclable Mein Schiff jute bags. A key measure massively increasing the number of plastic items eliminated was implemented aboard the ships this summer: thanks to the launch of butter dispensers across the fleet, packaging from ten million single-portions will be removed in future.

“These are just some of the measures our guests will come across every day. However, we have also taken a close look behind the scenes and identified potential for saving plastic or replacing it with alternative materials,” says Lucienne Damm, Senior Environmental Manager at TUI Cruises. Examples include the aprons for the chefs – TUI Cruises has replaced plastic aprons with cotton aprons across its fleet. This measure alone eliminates 1.5 million single-use plastic aprons per year. Moreover, all crew members now enjoy their coffee-to-go exclusively with reusable coffee cups that can be returned. “With 30 million single-use plastic items saved to date, we are looking back upon a very successful first year of our WASTELESS programme. And we still have a lot in the pipeline for 2020,” explains Lucienne Damm.

The next few measures have actually already been planned: single-use water bottles will be banned from the cabins. Mein Schiff 2 is currently carrying out a pilot with stainless steel bottles. Guests can buy the bottles for 9.90 euros and refill them free of charge throughout the cruise with water from water dispensers. “Of course, we continue to provide glass jugs in each cabin. However, we wanted to offer our guests the additional opportunity of taking water along on their excursions and save plastic bottles,” explains Lucienne Damm. The pilot will run until mid-December. The cruise line will then decide whether to launch the bottles across its fleet. The list of single-use plastic items to be replaced within the next few months is long: single-portion nut nougat spread, disposable rain ponchos, plastic pens and the use of plastic film on board. “Here, we are working closely with our service providers – we are jointly searching for sustainable alternative products,” says Lucienne Damm. 

TUI Cruises’ WASTELESS programme contributes to TUI Group’s overall goal of removing 250 million single-use plastic items by 2020 and is part of its sustainability strategy “Better Holidays, Better World“. Along with more than 100 other signatories, TUI Group has signed the International Tourism Plastic Pledge, joining others who also recognise the urgency and the need to work together to reduce plastic pollution.