ESPO supports more efficient but responsible management of waste from ships

22 January 2018

On 16 January, the European Commission published the new proposal on the revision of the Port Reception Facilities (PRF) Directive.

ESPO welcomes in principle the new proposal and its objective to build upon the substantial progress achieved under the existing Directive. European ports believe that any provisions leading to better enforcement of the obligation for ships to deliver waste at shore are welcome. The alignment of specific elements of the Directive with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) gains ESPO’s support. ESPO also believes that addressing the waste from fishing ships (fishing nets) and recreational craft will lead to a more comprehensive policy of tackling the sea-based sources of marine litter. Finally, European ports welcome that new types of waste, such as scrubber waste, have been addressed.

We welcome that the proposal seeks to increase efficiency, reduce administrative burden and aims to fully respect the ‘polluter pays’ principle. We now need to assess in detail the concrete provisions that are on the table and see if the options put forward by the Commission are the best way to guarantee an efficient but responsible regime for managing waste from ships. Ship generated waste has always been a high priority for European ports. Port authorities are certainly willing to take their responsibility within their competences and financial possibilities”, says ESPO’s Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost.

ESPO recognises that better enforcement is not the only way to reduce the waste discharged at sea. Providing the right incentives is equally important. The fee system introduced by the current Directive whereby ships are paying a fixed minimum fee when calling at a port, whether they are delivering waste or not, has certainly contributed to the delivery of increased quantities of waste on shore. European ports understand that strengthening this incentive policy is part of the current proposal. However, introducing a fee system whereby ships can deliver unlimited amounts of garbage, including dangerous waste and cargo residues for a fixed fee seems to be a severe and unacceptable divergence from the ‘polluter pays’ principle. It risks to discourage tackling waste at source by reducing volumes generated onboard, which has been the cornerstone of the EU waste policy.

The incentives as foreseen in the current Directive have without doubt been effective in reducing the waste gap. Continuing on this path seems a reasonable choice. Setting a price for an average quantity could be workable. But allowing ships to deliver even unreasonable quantities of garbage or dangerous waste for a fixed price would neither be responsible nor efficient. Equally we believe it is up to the port to decide if and when a rebate on the fee can be given to a ship. We may not forget that receiving and managing waste comes at a cost. It is the port authority that will have to pay the difference between the fee and the real costs of receiving and handling the waste amounts actually received. The proposal is now on the table. We are open to further discuss the issue with the Commission, Parliament and Council and are confident that a good solution can be reached,” adds Isabelle Ryckbost

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