Marella Cruises launches microplastic capture trial with Cleaner Seas Group

British cruise line Marella Cruises, part of TUI UK, and Cornwall-based greentech innovation company Cleaner Seas Group have embarked on an industry-first initiative with a six-month trial in microplastic capture aboard the Marella Explorer.

Marella Cruises has installed two INDIKON filters onto the Marella Explorer ship’s crew laundry system for the trial to prevent affecting delicate ecosystems and marine life from plastic microfibers.

The INDIKON is a washing machine filter, engineered by Cleaner Seas Group, that can be fitted to existing washing machines for microplastic capture from the machine’s water waste.

By trialing the filters on the ship, the partnership will take on the biggest ocean microplastic polluter: microfibres from laundry wastewater by working with the University of Surrey to monitor and measure the microplastics captured on board the ship.

Through the trial, Cleaner Seas Group will adapt any filter technology based on the University of Surrey’s findings from the trial and provide long-term filter solutions in microplastic capture.

Marella Cruises said it will review the results of the six-month trial before rolling out the INDIKON filters across the entire fleet of ships — Marella Discovery, Marella Discovery 2, Marella Explorer, Marella Explorer 2 and the newest ship to the fleet, Marella Voyager.

“We are committed to finding ways to further look after the natural environment in which our ships sail. By working with Cleaner Seas Group during this six-month trial as an industry first initiative, we believe that it will support future studies on preserving and protecting oceans,” Olivia Wells, Sustainability Manager at Marella Cruises, said.

“We are thrilled to be working on this ocean conservation initiative with Marella Cruises. By collaborating with one of the largest cruise lines in the UK, we hope to set a new course in microplastic capture prevention at sea. Throughout this groundbreaking trial, we will work with the University of Surrey to monitor and measure the rates of microplastics captured in the INDIKON filters, whilst simultaneously working with our innovation team to apply and adapt our filtration technology for the cruise industry,” Dave Miller, CEO at Cleaner Seas Group, commented.

Marine litter presents a huge problem in oceans, with some scientists warning that, by 2050, the quantity of plastics in the oceans will outweigh fish. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been regulating marine plastic litter for the last 50 years – from the dumping of waste at sea to discharges from ships.     

Back in 2021, the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted a strategy to address marine plastic litter from ships, which sets out the ambitions to reduce marine plastic litter generated from, and retrieved by, fishing vessels; reduce shipping’s contribution to marine plastic litter; and improve the effectiveness of port reception and facilities and treatment in reducing marine plastic litter.

The strategy sets a vision to “strengthen the international framework and compliance with the relevant IMO instruments, endeavouring to achieve zero plastic waste discharges to sea from ships by 2025”.