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Port Reception Facilities

port reception facilitiesImage: Shutterstock


Several types of waste are generated on board ships. Oily wastes, sludge, drainage from the bilges, sewage and garbage, among others, are produced, along with cargo residues during loading and unloading operations. The type and quantity of wastes generated depend on various factors such as the type and size of the ship, the duration of the journey and the speed of the ship, the type of fuel and, at last but not least, the waste management practices on board.

For centuries the majority of waste generated on board ended up in the oceans and seas. At the present time shipping accounts for about 20% of the global discharges into the sea. The impact of these discharges is well known, ranging from chemical pollution, which may affect the acidity of the ocean waters or add chemicals into the food chain, subsequently effecting marine life and human health, to the death of marine life as non-digestible, non-degradable debris and plastic is eaten by marine animals by mistake. Marine Litter can also affect both the natural and economic value of the shoreline.

EU Action In order to minimize these and other impacts from waste discharges, strong international and community action in maritime transport has been undertaken. The EU Directive 2000/59/EC on port reception facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues, which aligns with the IMO Convention MARPOL 73/78 (International Convention for the Protection of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol 1978), aims to reduce pollution from the waste produced by ships.

Under MARPOL and the PRF Directive there is an obligation to provide port waste reception facilities, (PRF), which must be adequate to meet the needs of ships using the port, without causing undue delay. The EU PRF Directive also requires the delivery of ship generated wastes and the implementation of a cost recovery system by the Member States covering the costs of planning for, collecting and disposal of this waste. This Cost Recovery System (CRS) should be aligned with the polluter/user pays principle, whilst simultaneously providing an incentive for ships to deliver their waste on shore. Under the PRF Directive, Member States are left with a high degree of freedom to arrange the reception of waste and to apply CRS in the most suitable manner for their ports.

Role of EMSA

The variability in the PRF systems implemented in the 1000+ seaports in the EU, have generated complaints and calls for harmonized practices from the port users. Therefore, EMSA have been tasked to provide the Commission and the Member States with technical support and guidance to achieve a harmonized interpretation and implementation of the EU PRF Directive. To achieve this purpose EMSA has run training and discussion workshops with the main stakeholders on many of the issues raised in the PRF Directive (e.g. the provision of exemptions, the delivery of cargo residues and the CRS systems). EMSA has also visited each of the Member States to see how each one has implemented the PRF Directive and provided conclusions to the EC in the form of a horizontal assessment. EMSA are now helping the Commission prepare for the revision of this Directive and are providing the technical secretariat for the ESSF – PRF Sub-Group which is being used as a stakeholder consultation group for this exercise. We are also developing a stand-alone module in THETIS to help the Member States enforce the Directive.

Port Reception Facilities in a nutshell

newsbulletThe PRF Directive 2000/59/EC requires vessels to land the waste they produce during voyages to and between EU ports to port reception facilities.

newsbulletIt also requires ports to develop Waste Handling Plans and provide Port Reception Facilities to the ships using their port.
newsbulletIt requires vessels to pay a Mandatory Fee for landing this waste and to notify the port of what waste it has in advance of arriving in port.

newsbulletThe mandatory Fee ensures that a ship can land its waste and that waste is not discharged into the sea, however the amount and type of wastes that can be delivered in each port vary.
newsbullet This is one of the oldest pieces of European Legislation for shipping in the EU and the Commission are presently revising this Directive.

Recently Published

s cover prf report


Guidance for Ship Inspections under the Port Reception Facilities Directive (Directive 2000/59/EC)
m cover prf implementation2 Technical Recommendations on the Implementation of Directive 2000/59/EC on Port Reception Facilities
m cover prf report 1 The Management of Ship-Generated Waste On-board Ships



This study provides an empirical overview of the management, drivers, technologies and the quantities of different categories of ship-generated waste. The data presented in this report have been collected from ship audits, interviews, a literature review, an online survey among stakeholders and audits of waste notification forms.