Sustainability, sustainability, sustainability

IMPA COO Stephen Alexander reports on the IMPA agenda for 2020 and beyond

Be in no doubt about the importance of sustainability in the shipping business, everywhere we look the ‘Green Shipping’ agenda is the highest priority for both shipping companies and manufacturers and its changing ship supply too.

Examples of initiatives and action being taken can be seen in the shipping media every day such as the Getting to ‘Zero coalition’ announced back in September 2019 at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York that seeks to spearhead the development of game-changing technology needed to combat climate change. IMPA members Alfa Laval have made a commitment to joining the initiative that will seek to decarbonise the shipping industry to reach IMO targets of cutting vessel relation greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050.

IMPA’s own conference in Singapore last November set the association on a course that will remain in place for several years to come. The programme in Singapore featured ship owners and ship suppliers reports on their initiatives in sustainability with some exciting initiatives for those in the buying and supplying arena.

As many readers will know, IMPA for a long time now has promoted sustainable procurement through its corporate social responsibility programme IMPA ACT and now more than ever companies are looking at this as a way to comply with international standards and the enquiries are coming in.

Is IMPA ACT a sustainability programme?

In part yes, it is, sustainability covers an immense agenda across all operations within a company and is concerned with the use of resources, energy and carbon reduction as well as management and care of the environment, the workforce and the wider range of stakeholders involved in a business. A particular risk for companies is the impact they have within their supply chain and through the products and services they purchase. IMPA ACT provides a framework for companies to design their own sustainable supply chain strategy and programme that can allow them to work in a sustainable way that is also aligned to international standards and in the main part the United Nations guiding principles.

To further bolster IMPA’s commitment to the sustainability agenda the association will soon appoint a special ambassador for sustainability, who will help champion some of the initiatives currently being taken and help our members navigate through the narrative for what makes good practice and sensible steps to take on a sustainable journey.

There is still much confusion around the sustainability agenda and what it actually means. In my view the simplest way to think about it is by referring to the People, Planet, Profit mantra, building on the corporate social responsibility theme. Look deeper into this headline and there are some key points to take on board that are directly related to our work in the maritime supply chain.

The key factor to keep in mind is that this agenda has at its very core the requirement to reduce carbon, as Jen Teo, Executive Director at the Singapore Environment Council explained to me when we met in December:

“we are supporting a great many initiatives in environmental best practice for organisations in Singapore and recognise these through our product labelling programme and our programme for examining the environmental footprint at offices and locations but the main objective is the reduction of carbon and this must be at the heart of any initiative and action”

We are all aware of the carbon reduction programme associated with the SOX/NOX issue but from a procurement perspective it now points clearly in a certain direction and that must mean that companies initiatives should be focused on a positive net effect “it would not be sensible for example to reduce plastic consumption in one endeavour that leads to increased cost and manufacture of an alternative solution simply to create less plastic when the carbon output remains the same” as Ms Teo explains.

In summary the essence of sustainability is in carbon reduction across the board and all initiatives should point this way, whether that’s controlling vessel emissions or by using procurement to reduce consumption of materials and good harmful to the environment. For procurement teams across the world we are facing new challenges.

The use of plastic and particular single use plastic has become a ‘hot’ topic within our industry and particularly in light of the dramatic action taken by the Indian government back in October when they banned single use plastics on board ships in their waters (see inset on page 20).

India Requirements

India’s Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) prohibits the use of single-use plastics on ships – irrespective of their flags – operating in Indian waters (circular dated 16 October 2019, as follows:

  • from 16 October 2019: cutlery, plates and cups; up-to 10 litres bottles for water and other drinks; garbage and shopping bags; and dispensing containers for cleaning fluids which are less than 10 litres volume.
  • from 1 January 2020: bags, trays, containers, food packaging film; milk bottles, freezer bags, shampoo bottles, ice cream containers; bottles for water and other drinks, dispensing containers for cleaning fluids, biscuit trays; hot drink cups, insulated food packaging, protective packaging for fragile items; and microwave dishes, ice cream tubs, potato chip bags, bottle caps.

The ban is differently enforced depending on the ship’s flag as described below:

For ships flying the India Flag:

  • Recognised Organisations shall ensure that single-use plastics are not found used/stored on board during surveys, inspections and audits. A Memo is to be inserted in the survey status; and
  • Administration shall verify that single-use plastics are neither used or available on ships during Flag State Inspection/Audit/Survey of Indian ship. ln case of non-compliance, the deficiency shall be rectified prior to the departure. If the same deficiency is repeated during the next inspection, it may be taken as a clear ground for detention under the ISM Code.

For ships flying other Flags:

  • Port State Inspectors shall ensure that single-use plastics are not in use and are kept locked in a store during the ships’ stay in Indian ports and on their passage through the territorial waters of India. Ships are required to make a log entry identifying the “Single-Use Plastic Items” on board the ship. Port State Inspectors shall verifies that no single-use plastic items be discharged at any port reception facility in India.

DGS clarifies that no detention of foreign ships will be enforced but – If found necessary – a handwritten deficiency printed on PSC Form “B” may be issued and the deficiency to be rectified prior to departure. The deficiency will not be uploaded onto the Indian Ocean Computerised Information System (IOCIS).

The Indian Administration, having acknowledged the industry feedback and the complexity to comply in due time with the a.m. requirement, reviewed and finalised the plan for the execution of the requirement of DGS Order 5 of 2019.

Accordingly, the newly issued Addendum No.1 to Order 5 0f 2019 dated 8th January 2020 was issued providing the methodology to be adopted for complying with the requirement of the a.m. order.

In application of the a.m. Addendum No.1 ships registered under Indian Flag as well as foreign flag ships calling Indian ports have to prepare a specific Ship Execution Plan (SEP) containing:

  • a list of inventories indicating all single use plastic used onboard as on 31 January 2020 for Cargo ships and 31 March 2020 for Passenger Ships.
  • the identification, listing and prohibition of single use plastic items according to the execution methodology schedule contained in the Addendum No.1.

Details on schedule and execution methodology are provided in the Addendum No.1 of DGS order 05 of 2019. Also further reference and guidance can be made to the F.A.Q. document which can be found here.

As a result of this action and others, many shipping companies are asking their suppliers to minimise their use of single use plastic and imposing new terms on the supply of their goods on board around this. Many shipping companies are examining ways and means of changing the use of water bottles by example looking at issuing seafarers with their own re-usable water bottle filled via a central water tank suitable for consumption.

Several suppliers are reporting that they are being asked to consider the use of plastic containers and challenging them to reduce or even change the packaging. This represents a huge challenge for suppliers as they lack the leverage in many cases to influence their own supply chain. Its key therefore for both suppliers and owners and managers to keep their ears to the ground when it comes to new initiatives and product developments.

As the problem with plastic is not limited to goods but the packaging that goes with them, a particular issue is pallet packaging film that in most cases in discarded and sent to landfill and not capable of being recycled.

Suppliers such as Chiefmar in Italy have already taken steps to remove plastic from both the packing and delivery of goods they despatch, many others are doing the same. This can be seen as both an opportunity to make immediate positive environmental change whilst also providing a competitive advantage and customer value proposition as the demand is immediate and growing form the ship owners and their customers.

This growing demand for suppliers to reduce single use plastic in the supply chain is not an easy task, plastic is an essential product and the general use of plastic in the world is expected to increase in line with consumption and population growth.

The problem with plastic is as mentioned previously in so many cases it is non-recyclable, buyers and suppliers in the maritime supply chain therefore need to be alert to the growing number of alternative solutions available in the market place. IMPA will attempt to investigate and champion such products as part of its sustainability agenda and readers are encouraged to log into the IMPA blog for updates.

It’s good to know that there is much being done by the industry players and giants such as Exxon Mobil who have recently developed a new film product will be of interest to all. At a presentation in Singapore last December I met with representatives of ExxonMobil who demonstrated the qualities of a new film they have developed that uses half the amount of material and offers improved strength securing goods, the material is 100% recyclable and importantly does not mean an increase in the cost for the supplier.

The plastic issue is something that Wilhelmsen Ship Management have tackled head on, by commissioning DNV to investigate and help report on the actual use of plastic product on board ship and within packaging and quantifying per vessel. This has developed into an industry initiative that IMPA has joined to widen the scope and in further issues of MT and on the IMPA blog we will be reporting in greater detail the work being done.

For now let me say this is the priority agenda for IMPA in the coming months and we will be doing whatever we can through IMPA ACT and through other initiatives to support members and the industry with their sustainability journeys.