Table 1 Summary of Cruise Ship Waste Streams

Table 1
Summary of Cruise Ship Waste Streams

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Type of waste Estimated amount generated (typical one-week voyage) Content/type Notes
Sewage (blackwater) 210,000 gallons Wasterwater and solids from toilets. Can introduce disease-causing microorganisms and excessive nutrients to waterways.
Graywater 1 million gallons* Wastewater from sinks, showers, galleys, laundrys. Contains detergents, cleaners, oil and grease, metals, pesticides, medical and dental wastes. Has potential to cause adverse effects due concentration of nutrients and oxygen-demanding substances in waste stream.
Hazardous wastes 110 gallons Photo chemicals. Can contain silver, a toxic metal
Hazardous wastes 5 gallons Drycleaning waste (perchloroethylene and other chlorinated solvents). Perchloroethylene is a chemical that can cause neurotoxicity and kidney effects in humans.
Hazardous wastes 10 gallons Used paint.  
Hazardous wastes 5 gallons Expired chemicals, including pharmaceuticals.  
Hazardous wastes Unknown Other wastes, such as print shop wastes. Can contain hydrocarbons, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and heavy metals that can be harmful to humans and aquatic species.
Hazardous wastes Unknown Used fluorescent and light bulbs. Contain small amounts of mercury, a toxic metal.
Hazardous wastes Unknown Used batteries. Contain heavy metals and acids.
Solid waste 8 tons Plastic*, paper, wood, cardboard, food, cans, glass. May be incinerated with ash discharged at sea; some solid wastes disposed or recycled on shore. Ash can contain hazardous wastes.
Solid waste 8 tons *Under international regulations, the discharge of plastics is prohibited. May be incinerated with ash discharged at sea; some solid wastes disposed or recycled on shore. Ash can contain hazardous wastes.
Oily bilge water 25,000 gallons Liquid collected in the lowest point in the boat when the boat is in its static floating position. Under international and U.S. regulations, ships are only allowed to discharge bilge waters containing less then 15 ppm of oil.

*NOTE: The interim Alaska report states that average cruise ship discharge is 200,000 gallons per day and that a large cruise ship may discharge as much as 350,000 gallons per day of treated blackwater and graywater.

SOURCES: Bluewater Network, Petition to U.S. EPA, Mar. 17, 2000; International Council of Cruise Lines, Cruise Industry Waste Management Practices and Procedures, May 14, 2001; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cruise Ship White Paper, August 22, 2000, Code of Federal Regulations, Title 33, Volume 2, Parts 120 to 199, revised as of July 1, 2000, Sec. 183.11. Definitions pp. 751-752.