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.

Twelve tug operators and a BTA Associate member signed the new Charter upon release in December and have pledged to go beyond both the International Maritime Organization’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.

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 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 BTA welcomes the leadership taken by the Chamber on this front and hopes towage will be the first sector of Chamber membership to universally adopt the Charter.

View the Charter here

For more information, please contact Michael Igoe,

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