Hurtigruten wages war on plastic waste

To protect marine life, the Norwegian cruise line will no longer employ single-use plastics

Norway plastic removal

Photo: Ørjan Bertelsen.
Young Explorers Hurtigruten

Special Release

Hurtigruten has announced that it will ban all unnecessary single-use plastic as of July 2, 2018, including the removal of plastic straws, drink mixers, plastic glasses, coffee lids, and plastic bags from all Hurtigruten ships. The goal is to become the world’s first plastic-free shipping company.

“At Hurtigruten, we have focused on the problem with plastic pollution for years. There is a lot of talk about the impact plastic has on our oceans. But it’s time to take action. By getting rid of single-use plastic on board all our ships already by this summer, we will hopefully get others to follow. It is possible to act now. The oceans do not deserve more hesitation,” says CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

Hurtigruten’s message is crystal-clear: All unnecessary single-use plastic will be removed company-wide by July 2, 2018. This means that plastic straws will be replaced by metal straws and plastic stirrers will no longer be used, nor will plastic glasses wrapped in plastic, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, plastic lids on coffee cups, plastic toothpicks, plastic aprons, single-use packaging of butter, and all other single-use plastic items that Hurtigruten’s 400,000 guests and 2,500 employees encounter on a day-to-day basis.


Photo Ørjan Bertelsen
Hurtigruten Skjeldam Plast

“Every year, Hurtigruten guests and employees clean tons of plastic from beaches in the areas we operate. We witness the plastic pollution problem on a daily basis and need to take action. Operating in pristine areas as we do, comes with a responsibility,” Skjeldam adds.

Currently, 15 metric tonnes of plastic end up in the world oceans every minute of the day. If the trend continues, this number will double in the next 10 years, and by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.

“Plastic pollution is the single biggest threat to our oceans. Hurtigruten operates in some of the most vulnerable areas in the world. This means that we carry a special responsibility to protect these areas for the local population and future generations of explorers,” Skjeldam says.

Hurtigruten’s single-use plastics ban will be effective across its entire fleet of custom-built expedition vessels—both operating on the Norwegian Coastal route, as well as expedition cruises in Antarctica and Arctic waters. The single-use plastic ban will also be imposed on the hotels, restaurants, and other establishments of Hurtigruten’s land-based operations on Svalbard, operated by its fully owned subsidiary Hurtigruten Svalbard.

In addition to the internal plastic ban, Hurtigruten is challenging all its suppliers to reduce or stop the use of plastic.

“No one can win the war on plastic alone without allies. This is why we implement high demands on our suppliers. Our goal is to become the world’s first plastic-free shipping company. This is our first step,” Skjeldam says.

Hurtigruten’s plastic ban numbers:
• Straws in bars and restaurants: 960,000 pieces annually, approx. 6,200 lbs.
• Plastic glasses: 390,000 pieces annually, approx. 11,000 lbs.
• Single-use packages of butter: 826,000 pieces annually, approx. 1,800 lbs.

Hurtigruten is the world leader in exploration travel. With a history of nearly 125 years, the company offers expedition cruises to more than 200 destinations in over 30 countries. In 2019, Hurtigruten will introduce the world’s first hybrid battery-powered expedition ships. For more info, visit

This article originally appeared in the June 29, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.