European Ports Push for Stricter ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle

Illustration. Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

European ports do not want to carry the costs of “unreasonable amounts” of garbage delivered by ships, according to the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO).

ESPO has welcomed proposals put forward by the European Parliament Rapporteur Gesine Meissner in the draft report of the Transport Committee on the review of the Waste Reception Facilities Directive. The draft report will be discussed during the Transport Committee meeting to be held today.

As informed, the proposals are aiming to better protect the marine environment and decrease the administrative burden for stakeholders. ESPO has welcomed in particular proposals such as the definition of catering waste which would increase the quantities of recycled plastics and contribute to the targets of the European Plastics Strategy.

However, European ports believe that the “polluter pays” principle, which has been the cornerstone of the EU’s environmental policy, needs to be strengthened. Introducing a fee system whereby ships would deliver unreasonable quantities of garbage, including dangerous waste for a fixed fee would be “a severe divergence from the polluter pays principle”. It risks to discourage reducing waste at the source, ESPO said.

“We strongly believe however that the ‘polluter pays’ principle needs to be better reflected in the new Directive. We cannot accept a regime whereby ships are not incentivised to limit waste at the source and ports have to carry the costs of delivering unreasonable amounts,” Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO’s Secretary General, explained.

“Additionally, we oppose an automatic rebate for “green” ships. Any green rebate, if not corresponding to a real cost reduction, will have to be borne by the port authority. Not all port managing bodies have the financial ability to cover this cost and to give such rebates. We plead for an efficient, but responsible management of ship waste. We count on the rapporteur and Transport Committee members to further optimise the Directive in that sense” Ryckbost added.

ESPO further said that any mandatory green rebates for waste, as presented in the Commission proposal, would prevent ports from addressing local environmental challenges. In some areas, waste pollution is a great environmental concern while in others it is air quality and emissions. Furthermore, mandatory rebates disregard the existence of different business and governance models in ports across Europe.

The Commission has been preparing an EU submission to the IMO proposing a 100% indirect fee without quantity thresholds at the international level.

“I regret that a submission is being introduced to the Council when Parliament has not expressed any views, and negotiations with the Council have not even started. This initiative seems to bypass the ongoing democratic process and lacks legitimacy,” ESPO’s Secretary General concluded.

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