Records show cruise ships left behind more than 3 million pounds of trash in Alaska’s capital city in 2019.
Local government officials have reached out to both the Juneau landfill and the cruise ship industry to stop the dumping, but they aren’t having much luck.
Because both industries are private, and because there aren’t any laws on the books for cruise lines, there’s not much the city can do about it.
“We don’t regulate waste, garbage and hauling of garbage. So anything that we’re able to do will be by negotiation with the cruise lines,” Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt told the local news station.
Waste Management Inc. – which operates Juneau’s landfill – says it accepted 1,534 tons, or 3.3 million pounds, of cruise ship garbage in 2019.
That’s almost double what it was in 2018, which was 830 tons or 1.8 million pounds.
Tourist trash makes up a full 5 percent of the total garbage dumped in Juneau’s landfill in 2018 and 2019.
With the landfill projected to be full in 20 years, any amount of reduction helps.
And, with the climate fluctuating, the normally frozen ground has thawed, causing waste to seep into the ground.
Along with groundwater pollution, trash finds its way into Alaskan rivers and back out into the ocean as well.
Cruise Lines International Association Alaska became aware of the dumping last year.
Mike Tibbles, of CLIAA, said most the trash created on cruise ships is dumped at the initial port the cruise ship starts off at.
So, to figure out which cruise line is dumping what amount and where is challenging, especially with the cruise season starting soon.
“Right now we’re researching the issue a little bit more amongst our member lines to see which vessels are offloading and how much,” Tibbles said. “We definitely have a goal of trying to reduce that amount as much as we can going forward.