Costa Concordia - time to clean up our act

This week's news has been dominated by the Costa Concordia cruise shipwreck off the Tuscany coast.

As tragic as the loss of life has been, the full-scale of the environmental impact is only now beginning to emerge as thousands of gallons of sewage, oil and other waste seep into the surrounding sea.

It has become something of a cliché, but the phrase "out of sight, out of mind" has been particularly apt when it comes to mankind's approach to waste disposal.

If we weren't running out of landfill sites to dump our waste in this country, one could argue that we'd continue to bury our rubbish rather than recycling it (or better still not produce it in the first place). It requires an expensive landfill tax to force us into changing our behaviour.

But when it comes to the ocean, the "out of sight, out of mind" attitude is even more prevalent than on land. According to the Policymic website international legislation governing the processing and dumping of waste barely regulates the activities of cruise ships. Surprise, surprise: huge quantities of waste ends up being dumped into the ocean.

At this stage in the rescue effort, it's hard to say whether the disaster will signal an end to the growth in cruises as a popular holiday choice. My feeling is that it won't.

While the safety of cruises will obviously come under urgent review; I hope the opportunity does not go amiss to consider the wider impact on the environment. It's about time we cleaned up our act.  

Follow me on twitter @warbonwaste

Nick Warburton

Topics: edie
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