Solving the global challenge of marine pollution together
Preventing marine pollution, especially from plastic waste, is a global challenge. Shipping has acknowledged this and is now subject to strict and globally valid regulations on the handling of waste on board. Since then, there has been a sharp decline in the amount of waste making its way from merchant vessels and cruise ships into the ocean. Strict and globally valid regulations now prohibit – without exception – plastic and other environmentally hazardous waste from being thrown overboard; any violation is punishable by hefty fines.
Among other things, the international MARPOL convention stipulates that waste be collected and sorted on every merchant or cruise ship. To make sure that this happens, every vessel has a special garbage management plan on board. An officer is responsible for overseeing that the plan is followed, and all crew members receive training on its contents.
Except for catering waste, all other ship waste is only allowed to be disposed of in ports, which in turn, issue a disposal certificate to the ship indicating the type and quantity of waste they have received. What’s more, each ship crew keeps a garbage record book recording the quantities of waste generated and delivered ashore. When in port, government inspectors can check these logs at any time and impose fines for any violations.
In-port inspections ensure compliance with the rules, and their global validity ensures competitive neutrality.
However, the vast majority (80 percent) of marine litter makes its way into the oceans from land. According to the German Environment Agency, it mainly comes from rivers or large landfills near coastlines. A growing problem is presented by cosmetic products, shower gels and toothpastes that contain tiny plastic beads which flow unfiltered into the sea via rivers. The largest share of plastic waste at sea comes from the fishing industry (nets, nylon lines and plastic boxes) and from recreational boats and yachts, all of which are not covered by the global regulatory framework for commercial and ocean-going shipping.