Holland America Line and Andriali Contract unveil their recycling and repurposing pilot project and highlight the challenges, considerations and benefits


Holland America Line and woven fabric producer Andriali Contract have clubbed together for a pilot project to recycle and repurpose materials from drydock to further their mission of ‘Circularity in Marine’ design. 

Central to the project – which both parties are hoping will be the start of something bigger – is circularity: bringing discarded material which would have been destined to the landfill back to life to be used again within cruise ship interiors. 

Reflecting on how it all began, Holland America Line and Seabourn director of interior design My Nguyen recalls a lighthearted conversation over lunch, which turned into a big idea. “I came back from a drydock thinking about the thousands of metres of textiles that were being replaced as part of a verandah upgrade. I was determined to find a solution to keep these materials out of landfill. I mentioned this over lunch and a lightbulb went on from both the Andriali team and me. From that conversation, this idea was born.” 

Another of the cruise line’s ships is due to have its verandah staterooms renovated in December this year, and it is here that the pillows, draperies, bed runners and bed skirts will be sent to Andriali Contract, for the company to create yarn samples, which can then be repurposed into fabric to be used again by the cruise industry.

Co-founder Andrie Iglesias gave Andriali Contract’s perspective. “We thought it was a fabulous idea to bring this material back to life rather than letting it go to waste, and we feel our pilot project can help the industry and start a trend.” 

The firm, headquartered in Turkey, immediately took action to make it happen, with Andriali Contract president Esra Ozkan – who was involved in politics for many years –reaching out to Turkey’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Tourism among others to get the green light for this project. But this is where one of the greatest challenges was found. “It was already a difficult process to bring discarded material into Turkey, and this was aggravated by the Russia situation,” explains Ms Ozkan.  

Initially, Andriali Contract was not permitted to import the discarded materials to Turkey. But, as Mr Iglesias says, “We would not take no for an answer and pushed back”. In the end, the company got the green light to push forward, with support from the Turkish government. 

Having overcome this major hurdle, the next step is for the company to take samples of the discarded materials following the ship renovation in December, analyse the fabrics and decide how they can be processed into yarn and made into different fabrics which can be exported and used in future projects.

A minimum of one tonne is needed for shipping to Turkey. Ms Nguyen comments, “We are constantly renovating areas and can meet the minimum. This is also an opportunity to collaborate with other departments such as hotel, to combine the shipment with sheets and towels for example, so that collectively, we can meet the minimum every time. “

Indeed, she comments the “sky is the limit if we collaborate, plan and innovate with our partners” when it comes to not only taking the discarded material but bringing it back to life for cruise ships. “There is potential for retrofits, newbuilds and on the run projects.” 

She singles out the importance of a partnership with vendors and regulatory agencies in such a project. “We must spend the time to collaborate, have the patience, support and understanding for all the hurdles they go through and then do our part to commit to these partners.”

From the cruise operator side, Ms Nguyen highlights the major challenges. “Time is a big hurdle. It takes time and investment to think about offloading goods in a drydock, there are a lot of things to think about to make sure the vendor can receive the goods in a way that is useable for them. We rely on our very busy project managers to add this to their list of responsibilities. It takes a village.” 

Of course, cost is a consideration for both sides, but as Mr Iglesias points out, “It’s about the cost of the logistics of moving the discarded material versus landfill so there is going to be a balance somewhere – rather than throwing money away, it is about investing in bringing material back to life.”

Ms Nguyen adds, “The bottom line is to know what the costs are and talk to vendors about how to share the costs. It is not the right approach to expect one side to take on the full financial burden. This one-sided expectation is probably why there are not more pilot projects. I want to emphasise that nothing is free, innovation takes time and we have got to prioritise how to share costs.”

Andriali Contract has already managed to make cost efficiencies, with Ms Ozkan explaining, “We have spoken to Turkish Airlines, and they can provide us with containers for this project at a lower than usual price.” 

Moving forward, another necessity is trackability, with Ms Ozkan explaining, “We need to show where the yarn came from and prove we did not discard it again; government and other sources need to be able to vet us.”

The hope is this project will act as a catalyst for the cruise ship interiors industry to work with vendors to recycle and repurpose discarded material on a greater scale. Such projects are urgently needed, because as Ms Nguyen explains, “Wonderful things are happening in little pockets, we are not the only ones with such a pilot, but we can’t be just a handful to make a difference in the industry. We want to inspire and motivate. There is much opportunity for cross collaboration not only within our own departments, but with other cruise brands. Imagine a time when we can collaboratively handle the waste from back-to-back drydocks in the same location across different brands, and what impact that can make. We are all working towards the same goals.” 

Ms Nguyen hopes it becomes the norm in five years for cruise lines to partner with vendors to create a circular economy. “There is so much potential, and now more than ever, we all need to innovate and start acting on ideas rather than just talking about them.”

Both Holland America Line and Andriali Contract are hoping to scale up the project, with the aim being other cruise operators and designers are aware of these products on the market and incorporate them in their designs. 

Ms Nguyen sums up, “Partnering with good people and collaborating to make amazing products that prevent old material from going into landfills inspires me to turn pilot projects into a standard for Holland America and Seabourn. This partnership also supports our Corporate 2030 circular economy sustainability goals and 2050 aspirations.”

Andrie Iglesias