The UK Chamber of Shipping has launched its new Single-Use Plastic Charter. The Chamber and its members have a goal of ZERO pollution from ships to sea from plastic and the new Charter, which has 29 industry signatories, aims to encourage companies to ban the use of non-essential single-use plastics by the end of 2021 and help protect the environment now and for future generations.
Those signing up to the new Charter have pledged to go beyond both the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) work in this area, and the UK Government’s commitment to ban single-use plastics, which focuses on the exclusion of plastic straws, coffee/tea stirrers and plastic stemmed cotton buds. Companies who sign the Charter will aim to develop initiatives and replace nonessential single-use plastics as soon as possible, but no later than 31 December 2021.
Research has found that 80% of plastic enters the marine environment from land-based sources, especially via rivers. The shipping industry has, over the last few decades, been proactive in improving its environmental performance by implementing strict regulations about the disposal of waste. Internationally through the IMO, MARPOL Annex V prohibits the discharge of garbage, including plastic, into the sea.
Launching the Charter, UK Chamber of Shipping Policy Advisor, Environment, Michael Igoe said:
“The world has woken up to the harm that single-use plastics can cause and I am delighted the Chamber is showing such leadership in this vital area. By bringing together 29 companies we have demonstrated the commitment of the shipping industry to develop greener, more sustainable practices. There are numerous alternatives to single-use plastics and by adopting this charter these companies are showing their determination to protect the oceans for future generations.”
Chair of the UK Chamber’s Safety and Environment Committee and Senior Vice-President of Maritime Affairs at Carnival Corp & plc Tom Strang said:
“This commitment by members of the shipping industry to ban single-use plastics shows how important the sector takes its environmental responsibilities. It is huge credit that the UK Chamber of Shipping has managed to bring the industry together and create this Charter. This vitally important step will help to protect both sea life and our oceans for years to come.”
Single-use plastics are a threat to life in the ocean and the planet as a whole. It is estimated there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans and every year one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic waste. A recent UK Government report estimates that plastic in the sea is set to treble by 2025.
The Single-Use Plastic Charter also aims to help the industry be part of the circular economy, and where applicable create cultural change to both passengers and seafarers’ attitudes towards single-use plastic.
The Chamber has, with the help of several member companies, produced a guidance document entitled “Best Practice on Combating Single-Use Plastic in Shipping”. The guidance showcases several initiatives to replace the use of non-essential single-use plastic by more environmentally friendly solutions. The Chamber will also work closely with the UK Government, international shipping associations, ports and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that coastal states meet their MARPOL requirements to provide adequate port waste reception facilities.
The UK Chamber of Shipping will be holding a webinar on Single-Use Plastic in the Marine Environment on Tuesday 15th December 2020.