According to the World Ocean Review, the global merchant fleet has a capacity to carry more than 1 billion tons of cargo, fuel, freshwater, ballast water, provisions, passengers and crew. Combined, these floating “towns” produce vast quantities of waste.
When officials in Rotterdam, which harbors nearly 34,000 seagoing vessels each year, discovered only one-third of the ships unload their waste in port, they went looking for the other two-thirds.
Discovering that much of the waste, including oil, plastic residues, food scraps and more ends up directly in the ocean, the authorities began the search for alternatives.
In the past few years, a vast array of low- and high-tech solutions have been developed to help ships offload garbage, pollutants and other harmful materials in port, which means fewer of these materials are now being dumped at sea. And the waste is no longer looked as, well, waste.
“We should create a mind shift and not always translate sustainability into costs, but see if we can get revenue streams out of it,” says André Toet, chief operating officer for the Port of Rotterdam Authority.
And the port has done just that. As the video states, “Only 7 percent of collected waste is good for nothing.” The remainder is recycled and either reused or sold for other uses.
As global ship traffic continues to grow, the solutions showcased in Rotterdam offer a positive alternative that has the potential be replicated at other ports around the world.