Matson Waste Reduction Program:
In 1989, when the Center For Marine Conservation (CMC) held its annual California Coastal Cleanup, volunteers recovered a piece of plastic marine debris labeled "Matson Navigation Company," which was determined to have spent 20 years floating around the Pacific. Matson responded with concern, and in 1992, agreed to assist CMC in spearheading a pilot program for solid waste reduction. The two organizations worked cooperatively, and in the space of one year, implemented a project that was successful in preventing an estimated 194 tons of waste from being dumped into the ocean. Waste reduction programs not only make good environmental sense, they also have economic value for shipping companies who seek to avoid U.S. Coast Guard fines, and stand to benefit financially through effective marketing of environmental compliance. Reviewing MARPOL Regulations The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has established regulations designed to prevent further fouling of the oceans, and along with the U.S.
Coast Guard (USCG), is working to close the gap between legislation and enforcement. The adoption of the IMO's MARPOL (marine pollution) regulations by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships in 1978 made it illegal to discharge plastic wastes anywhere at sea, and also prohibited the dumping of any solid waste in designated "special areas." These regulations were adopted by 68 individual nations, and in the U.S., the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act of 1987 went farther, imposing severe fines and prison sentences on violators of MARPOL Annex V, the annex relating specifically to solid waste disposal.
MARPOL regulations are getting stricter, with amendments scheduled to be adopted in March 1996. These amendments will extend port state control to vessel operational requirements, which means that ships can be subjected to inspections in ports of other Parties to the Convention, improving the efficiency with which marine pollution standards are enforced. As standards increase, and more "special areas" are established, solid waste reduction programs will become a standard requirement. It is therefore in the interest of commercial shippers to initiate programs now to accomplish a twofold objective: to protect the health of the ocean resource; and to utilize reduction programs as a marketing tool to promote business. The Pilot Program […] Retrofitting: Investing In The Future Matson's fleet comprises two classes of vessels: RoRos and containerships. The solid waste reduction program was designed with these schemes in mind, with vessels Matsonia and Manukai serving as models, respectively. In the case of Matsonia, a RoRo, one 40-ft. cargo container was sufficient to hold all the waste for a two-week round trip, but as described by Ms. Sheehan, one of challenges faced in initiating reduction programs on Matson's fleet was maneuvering wastes through ships' quarters: "Ships were retrofitted to make it easier to transport the waste. This is where the cost lies." In order to set up the program onboard Matsonia, very little retrofitting work had to be completed. According to Captain Lynn Korwatch, general manager of marine operations at Matson, "We didn't have to do much because of the big, flat deck space. We could set a container close to the ground. We built steps that went up about a foot and a half (to the container)." The Manukai, however, required more effort: "On the aft-end of the ship, there is a steel structure built up, and garbage containers fit right into it. We modified the structure so that the crew can walk from the accommodation area directly into the container," said Capt. Korwatch.
In addition to the construction of a catwalk, the containers were also modified so that the doors would open in, as opposed to out. Garbage containers were purchased for all of the company's vessels, and five commercial dumpsters were installed inside each container, each with a designated function, separately storing plastics, cans, office paper, etc. Matson completed some of the retrofits in-house, such as minor door modifications. Other retrofitting work was contracted out to Dockside Marine, in California, and Todd Shipyards, in Washington.
[…] Using The Reduction Program Support System The Center for Marine Conservation has extended its assistance to shipping companies that are interested in organizing waste reduction programs, and has reportedly been contacted recently by American President Lines and Sea-Land.
The agency has published a report, Achieving Zero Discharge: Ship To Shore, that serves as a solid waste management handbook for commercial vessels. CMC also provides a Commercial Shipping Information Packet, which contains materials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detailing MARPOL Annex V regulations. The USCG has estimated that merchant vessels operating in U.S. waters generate 34,000 tons of domestic trash annually and dump more than half that amount directly into the ocean. Plans to eliminate or recycle these wastes already exist; and the initiation of waste reduction programs such as developed by CMC for Matson Navigation Co. are proof that a healthy environment can coexist with the fiscal health of a shipping line.
For more information on developing a solid waste reduction program, contact Linda Sheehan at CMC's California office, tel: 415- 391-6204. Other reports on this topic are available from NOAA's Marine Debris Information Office. Contact Jim Coe, program director, NOAA/NMFS Marine Entanglement Research Program, at tel: (206) 526-4009, for more information.