Rules & Regulations

The maritime industry faces more stringent environmental regulations, such as IMO Marpol 73/78 and regional standards, additional class notations and environmental standards such as ISO 14001.

Fulfill rules and regulations

The maritime industry faces an increasing number of environmental challenges, including more stringent environmental regulations, additional class notations and environmental standards such as ISO 14001. Although IMO Marpol 73/78 covers a wide range of environmental aspects, several international and national standards go beyond it.


Overview IMO Marpol

The Marpol 73/78 Annex V covers garbage waste types such as food and galley waste, dry waste and dangerous waste.

Marpol 73/78 Annex V – Garbage Management Plan  States procedures for collecting, storing, processing and disposing of garbage, including the use of equipment onboard. All garbage discharges must be registered in a “Garbage Record Book”.

From July 1, 1998 it has been mandatory for all ships of 400 gross tonnage and above and for every ship certified to carry 15 persons or more.

Special areas

IMO has defined special areas with even more stringent rules for discharge. The Caribbean Sea has recently been added as a new special area.

More stringent global regulations around the corner

Amendments to IMO MARPOL 73/78 Annex V

The below amendments to IMO Marpol 73/78 Annex V came into force in January 2013. A few types of discharge are approved instead of many types being prohibited. The regulations applying to discharge of cooking oil are more stringent than those for food waste – discharge is prohibited.

These amendments will have a substantial impact on waste management for all types of ships.


Local legislations

A number of local and national legislations go beyond the global legislation as defined by IMO.

Both EU and US ports have directives that strengthen the requirements on the ports’ reception facilities. This will of course affect ships delivering waste in these areas. The EU has stipulated that at least 25% of the ships entering a port should be inspected.

According to EU-directive 2000/59/EC, “Member states shall significantly contribute to the cost of these facilities as well as the related waste handling”. For some EU states the waste handling is included in the standard fee per gross tonne.

Both EU and US waters also have strict procedures for food waste and food contaminated waste which is classified as high risk material. This means that the food waste should be kept separate from other waste fractions.

The US has, for example, many areas where incineration is not allowed. Also many areas have stricter regulations for emissions and unburned remains in ashes.

The Helcom group covering the Baltic Sea countries has defined more stringent standards regarding waste management. 


The offshore industry areas are subject to national regulations regarding safety and environment, which include waste management. Examples are NORSOK and CONAMA for the Norwegian and Brazilian offshore Industries, respectively.

Norway: NORSOK regulations include several specific and detailed requirements related to waste management systems.

Brazil: CONAMA includes specific regulations relating to incineration, dry waste handling and food waste handling.

Unep Regional Seas Programme

The Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme endorsed the regional approach to controlling marine pollution several times before UNEP brought together a task force of scientists and officials to shape a Plan of Action for the Mediterranean. This was adopted in its final form in Barcelona in February 1975.                

Since then, 13 regional Action Plans have been established under the UNEP auspices: the Black sea, East Asian Seas, Eastern Africa, the ROPME Sea Area, the Mediterranean, North-East Pacific, Northwest Pacific, Red Sea & Gulf of Aden, South Asian Seas, Pacific, South-East Pacific, Western Africa and Wider Caribbean.

Similar independent agreements are in place in the Antarctic, Arctic, Baltic, Caspian and North-East Atlantic.

These local agreements influence marine waste management.