The PRF Directive transposes requirements of the MARPOL Convention into EU law. Its stated objective is to reduce the discharge of ship-generated waste and cargo residues at sea by requiring Member States to ensure that reception facilities are available in ports so as to collect these types of waste. Unfortunately, this obligation is not fulfilled, as there is a lack of adequate and sufficient facilities in EU ports, prompting the Commission to revise the Directive.
Moreover, the fees charged by some ports are neither transparent nor, in some cases, fair. A reasonable and functional fee system is required, fulfilling some minimum requirements and giving a fair incentive to the shipowners to deliver waste ashore.
“For the Directive to be effective, adequate port reception facilities must be available in EU ports. These facilities must also be able to handle new types of waste resulting from stricter environmental requirements such as ballast water and scrubber waste” commented Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary-General. “The next step is to ensure that the fee paid to the port of call is structured in such a way that it encourages shipowners to deliver ship’s waste to the appropriate facility”.
European shipowners also call for a more pragmatic approach on the issue of waste disposal from ships. Ships engaged in short sea shipping i.e. travelling short distances and calling frequently at EU ports as well as ships with enough storage capacit do not need to dispose of their waste at every single port call. Therefore the revised PRF Directive should clarify the exceptions & exemptions regime by offering more flexibility to the shipowners without endangering the goals of the PRF Directive.
Commenting on the implementation of the Directive, Benoit Loicq, Director of Maritime Safety and Environment at ECSA said: “The monitoring and enforcement mechanism needs to be efficient. It should be based on inspections but also on an electronic system that will allow shipowners to report inadequacies of PRF but also receive information on the availability of PRF before calling at an EU port”.
The discussion for a better waste management in Europe is gaining momentum especially after the release of the Circular Economy Package by the European Commission early December which also identifies the PRF Directive as the main tool to reduce the ship generated sources of marine litter (in line with the ECSA position paper on ‘Marine Litter’ adopted in August 2015).