EU rules on ship waste disposal could add to owners’ costs

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

10 October 2018


Less than a week after outgoing Intercargo chairman John Platsidakis criticised port reception facilities, the European Parliament has adopted a report which could result in increased costs for owners that store garbage for disposal at a single convenient port instead of disposing of small quantities at every port.

According to a release from the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), The Transport Committee of the European Parliament has adopted Meissner report on the Port Reception Facilities and plans to commence negotiations with the Council to finalise the text of the new law.

ESPO said it particularly welcomes the proposal to strengthen the ‘polluter pays’ principle by discouraging the delivery of unreasonable quantities of garbage, including dangerous waste, for a fixed fee. This proposal will better protect marine environment by increasing the quantities of waste delivered at ports. It aims to make sure that ships deliver their garbage at every port call and do not skip waste deliveries to save time. It finally avoids that ports have to pay the extra costs of delivering amounts of garbage that exceed the normal quantities generated between two ship calls.

“The Transport Committee of the European Parliament has clearly voted in favour of a policy that incentivises ships to deliver waste generated on board in the ports. It also encourages ships to limit the waste at the source by preventing ships to deliver unreasonable amounts of waste without paying for it. We believe that the text adopted strikes the right balance between efficiency and responsibility and strengthens the ‘polluter pays’ principle. We are very thankful to the Transport Committee for their very balanced position in what has been from the beginning a technical and complicated piece of legislation. We count on the rapporteur and the negotiating team of the Parliament to defend this outcome in the further negotiations with the Council,” said Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO’s Secretary General, on the outcome of the EP vote.

The Meissner report did have some comfort for shipowners by suggesting that rebates for green management of waste by ships should be encouraged by mandatory rebates. However, ESPO regrets that the Parliament decided to make rebates mandatory for green management of waste on board of ships. While encouraging ships to work on sustainable waste management, ports believe the decision to give rebates must be taken at port level. Rebates are generally applied to address the local environmental challenges. In some areas, waste pollution is a great environmental concern while in others it is air quality and emissions. Furthermore, mandatory rebates disregard the existence of different business and governance models in ports across Europe.