[By Wei Chen, Oliver Jost, Niclas Karlsson, Markus Joswig and Mark Beavis]
This short paper reviews food waste and food waste reject water (FWRW) from ships and how FWRW has been caught up in non-compliant practices across much of the passenger ship sector.
Food waste and its characteristics
A ship’s food waste is regulated under the IMO’s MARPOL Annex V Convention. When food waste is offloaded from an international ship to ports, it is also regulated under the national biosecurity regulations in force in countries such as the EU Member States, the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, among others.
Studies showed that there are significant variations in the food waste characteristics and generation rate, depending on the system designs, operational practices, passenger behaviours, food services, and voyage itineraries. Each study has its own unique circumstances. Taking representative food waste samples and having them suitably prepared for analysis is not without challenges. To simplify and rationalise a broad spectrum of findings, a cruise ship generates approximately 1 kg/person/day at 25 percent dry solids (DS), as collected in the bins, which has an organic content of about 1,200 g COD/kg DS or 600 g BOD/kg DS.
Food waste reject water (FWRW) and its characteristics
Many merchant ships dispose food waste from the bin to the sea. This is simple, compliant, and sustainable. To take food waste bins up and down a cruise ship is prohibitive due to hygiene and resource constraints. Instead, food waste is sorted at the pulper station to remove bones, plastics, and occasionally cutlery. It is then macerated and transferred from the pulper station to a holding tank by pumping or vacuum. Fresh water is added to aid the transfer and cleaning. This results in a food waste slurry of about 10 percent DS in the holding tank, accumulating at a rate of about 2.5 kg/person/day. 30~50 percent of the organics can be soluble, with most particles being less than 2 mm.
Not many facilities on land can receive this slurry. It causes odour, is too thick to flow freely in the sewers and too wet to be incinerated. It carries the risks of disease or pests, which may prevent it from being anaerobically digested under biosecurity rules. Traditionally, this slurry has been discharged into the sea 3 or 12 nm from the nearest land, which is simple and compliant.
In order to achieve zero-discharge and to ‘go beyond the rules’, the food waste slurry is dewatered to a paste of 20~25 percent DS, then dried to a powder of 70~90 percent DS for incinerating on board. This is done at great expense in terms of capital costs, space, fuel, chemicals, and man-hours.
The waste management hierarchy governing the waste policies of our society would suggest that food waste incineration is a worse option than compliant discharge at sea. The absence of effective heat recovery during drying and incineration blurs the line between ‘waste to energy’ and wasting energy.
There are also mixed messages on system availability. But when they are operating, it is evident that only half of the food waste is converted into incineration emissions and ashes. The other half is in the so-called food waste reject water (FWRW) which is produced during dewatering of the food waste slurry.
Grey water or FWRW?
Setting aside the issue of efficiencies, the industry’s zeal for ‘zero-discharge’ can be well intended and compliant. The problem starts when the FWRW is wrongly considered as being grey water.
Is FWRW grey water? No, being a food waste derivative and carrying half of the food waste, FWRW is clearly not grey water. Grey water is generated from showers, wash basins, laundries and kitchen sinks, and is unregulated by the IMO rules. The definition of grey water does not include food waste or food waste derivatives. When FWRW goes into a spider web of piping diagrams and reappears as grey water, it renders compliant entries to the Garbage Record Book impossible. The practice does not comply with the IMO’s MARPOL Annex IV Convention. When this ‘grey water’ is connected to the sewage treatment plant onboard, it also causes non-compliance with the MARPOL Annex IV convention.
But the implications do not stop here.
Some insist the FWRW is grey water because ‘it looks better than grey water’. But its clarity or concentration are never the criteria when it comes to the risks of diseases and pests under the national biosecurity rules. Foreign food waste must be kept separately in tightly covered containers and transported to the approved facilities ashore for safe disposal. It is not permitted to change the physical structure of such food waste. These national rules are recognized and respected by the IMO’s Guidelines. To consider food waste derivatives as grey water and to allow it into the coastal waters and local sewers flouts the biosecurity rules.
However, such non-compliant designs and practices were often approved by the approval authorities serving some of the flag states at the expense of the agricultural interests of some of the port states.
Such approvals make any corrective actions difficult if not impossible. There is safety in numbers. But the issues will not go away. They serve as a long-lasting reminder to maritime and biosecurity professionals about the status of some of the marine rules.
The industry is innovative by nature. The regulations are often playing catch-up. But when we crave to be green, to achieve zero discharge, to ‘go beyond the rules’, can we do so without breaking the rules?
Dr Wei Chen, Future Program Development Manager, Wartsila UK Ltd, UK
Oliver Jost, Maritime Environmental Affairs, Wasserschutzpolizei (Water Police) Hamburg, Germany
Niclas Karlsson, Managing Director, Clean Ship Scandinavia AB, Sweden
Markus Joswig, Head of Marine Department, PIA GmbH, Germany
Mark Beavis, IEng IMarEng FIMarEST, Sales & Special Projects Director, ACO Marine s.r.o., Czech Republic, ACO Marine Systems GmbH, Germany
Benny Carlson, Chairman and owner, Marinfloc, Sweden
Ed White, Environmental Consultant, former Alaska DEC cruise ship compliance manager
Felix von Bredow, Board of Hamman AG, Hamman AG, Germany
Antony Chan, Engineering Manager, Victor Marine Ltd., UK
Helge Østby, Senior Technical Advisor, Jets Vacuum AS, Norway
A massive fire broke out at the Port of Beirut on Thursday, incinerating a warehouse full of tires and oil within the port’s free zone. The same area was heavily damaged in the ammonium nitrate explosion that leveled the central port area and the adjacent waterfront on August 4. According to Lebanon’s civil defense agency, […]
Over the course of the past five days, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority arranged a medical intervention for an injured aboard a freighter in the Indian Ocean. On Saturday evening, the Spliethoff tweendecker Dolfijngracht called for assistance while under way about 1,000 nauical miles off the coast of Western Australia. A crewmember had sustained serious […]
The naval forces of the US and Bahrain recently staged a joint force training exercise which showcased the interoperability between coalition warships operating I the Arabian Gulf. Coalition Task Force Sentinel executed combined exercise Sentinel Shield supporting Sentry and Sentinel patrols in the coalition’s area of operations. The guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones and […]
DSV Belgium has solid experience in the transport of pharmaceutical products for different customers. With a pharma hub based at Brussels Airport a lot of experience and know-how has been built up over the years. Last weekend, the forwarder handled one hundred million mouth masks, an important milestone for its Belgian organisation that has put […]
The U-Freight Group (UFL), with its considerable involvement in eCommerce logistics, says that the latest statistics showing that global e-commerce sales hit $25.6 trillion in 2018 are a further vindication of its decision to enter this sector of the international freight market several years ago. The latest available estimates, up 8% from 2017, were recently […]
The UK government’s new post-Brexit tariff regime will result in both winners and losers. The new regime is set to replace the European Union’s Common External Tariff from the end of the Brexit Transition Period on December 31, 2020. The UK’s commitment to the ongoing Brexit process and ending the UK’s transition from EU membership […]
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a Marine Accident Brief about an accident that occurred on April 15, 2019, involving the towing vessel DeJeanne Maria which struck the end of a submerged dredge pipeline while pushing two spud barges to the Gulf of Mexico. The incident occurred on the Mississippi River in Pass […]
Astral Aviation has increased its intra-African network with cargo freighters during the pandemic. While there has been a reduction in capacity to, from, and within Africa, which has been caused by a stoppage of passenger flights and limited frequencies on freighter aircraft, Astral Aviation continues to operate cargo freighters from its Nairobi hub to 13 destinations […]
With close to 100 daily cargo flights operated to a destination network spanning more than 65 cities across six continents, Emirates SkyCargo is delivering essential supplies and commodities to people around the world. The air cargo carrier is currently operating 11 Boeing 777 freighter aircraft, each with a capacity to transport about 100 tonnes of […]
Best known as a leading passenger airport serving Germany’s most populated federal state North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf has become transformed into a vital distribution point, during the COVID 19 pandemic, for medical equipment and other life-saving goods, mostly from China. Gerton Hulsman, managing director of cargo operations, reports that the handling teams are working hard to […]
Operators can continue to use pilots and other crew members who have unable to comply with certain training, recent experience, testing, and checking requirements due to the COVID-19 outbreak in support of essential operations. Additionally, this Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) provides regulatory relief to certain persons and pilot schools unable to meet duration and […]
Global commercial aviation charter company Albion Aviation Group is reporting that it is seeing a considerable uptake in its professional cargo broker training courses from the current global pandemic crisis and surge in charter demand. “We have completed a number webinar courses for a whole of host of companies, looking to manage their own cargo […]
Emirates SkyCargo has expanded its weekly scheduled cargo flight operations to cover 75 destinations across six continents. Through its wider reach, Emirates SkyCargo is able to transport essential commodities and other urgently needed cargo more rapidly across the world, allowing exporters and importers across markets to benefit from direct access to widebody cargo capacity. Some […]
The First DP2, Twin-Hulled SOV in the World, NB72 Groene Wind met the Sea on September 29. 2020 in Yalova, Turkey. The Groene Wind will be directly chartered to Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy for the maintenance of the Rentel and Mermaid & Seastar (known as SeaMade) offshore wind farms in Belgium. This is the first DP2, […]
Callan Marine is serving as the prime contractor to the Texas Department of Transportation for a maintenance dredging project located at the Bolivar Ferry Terminal, in Galveston, Texas. Work began in May and is estimated to be complete in late July 2020. The project consists of the removal of 600,000 cubic yards of material and […]
Network Airline Management and TAAG Angola Airlines are pleased to announce the renewal of their long-term freighter aircraft contract by an additional 12 months, sealing an ongoing partnership for the foreseeable future. Operating a regular weekly scheduled service from Liege, Belgium, to the capital of Angola, Luanda, Network Airline Management provides a Boeing 747-400F aircraft […]