Port reception facilities

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The availability of adequate port reception facilities (PRFs) for ships’ waste is crucial for the effective implementation of waste management plans in ports. These facilities mostly receive and collect waste from ships, including cargo residues, garbage, oily water and sewage, from the port’s regular vessel traffic. Passively Fished Waste (example: marine litter collected in fishing nets) is now also considered a waste type that can be disposed by ships at ports.

In addition, PRFs often process the waste further, by sorting, treating and recycling it, adding value to it. In some cases, new products can be generated and put on the market, promoting circular economy.

The availability of PRFs in ports is the responsibility of Member States under the Port Reception Facilities Directive and such facilities are paid partly by the ships and partly by the port authorities. The revised Directive (Directive (EU) 2019/883) entered into force on 27 June 2019 and makes reference to four Implementing Regulations that define:

To promote responsible waste disposal, part of the costs of the facilities is included in a general indirect fee that is paid by every ship using the port, supplemented by a direct fee based on the actual amount of waste disposed of. This aims at promoting regular waste disposal and balance the distribution between all ports. How the waste is processed after disposal at the PRF is of the utmost importance.

Some types of waste require particularly careful management and disposal, such as expired pyrotechnics, batteries, used wires, ropes and tails, and medical waste. It is important for the ship’s master to plan onboard waste management properly and have information on the specific reception facilities available at each port called at on the journey.

For this purpose, ports publish on their websites and other public databases a list of their PRFs, including maximum amounts that can be accepted, fees and contacts. Once waste has been disposed of, a waste receipt is issued to the master of the ship.

The Directive also includes provisions for mandatory reporting of waste information from ships via SafeSeaNet. This includes information on estimated amounts of waste to be disposed at the ports, waste receipts and exemptions.

EMSA’s role: port reception facilities

EMSA has supported the European Commission and EU Member States in the preparation for the implementation of the PRF Directive,  in particular in the drafting of the Implementing Regulations linked to the Risk Based Targeting mechanism and the Calculation of the Sufficient Dedicated Storage, necessary for its entry into operation. EMSA prepared initial concept papers as a basis for discussion, and assisted in the compilation of the Recommendations for the Regulations proposed by the  participants of the ESSF subgroup on Wastes from Ships.

In terms of sufficient dedicated storage, an important reference document used was the following study: ‘The Management of Ship-Generated Waste On-board Ships’ (published on 31.01.2017). This provided an empirical overview of the management, drivers, technologies and the quantities of different categories of ship-generated waste. The document is accessible here

A relevant study used as input for the Regulation on the criteria to determine that a ship produces reduced quantities of waste, commissioned by DG-COM, is the document ‘Identifying criteria for determining whether a ship produces reduced quantities of waste and manages it in a sustainable manner’ (published on February 2021), that can be accessed here.

THETIS-EU contains a module to record and exchange information on the results of inspections mandated by the Directive on port reception facilities.

Moreover, to promote an harmonised approach to PRF ship inspections, EMSA drafted a non-binding guidance document under the Port Reception Facilities Directive (EU) 2019/883, which can be accessed here: Guidance for Ship Inspections under the Port Reception Facilities Directive. Directive (EU) 2019/883.

The Agency also conducts visits to Member States concerning the PRF Directives. The cycle for the new Directive has not yet been initiated, but the list visits under the previous Directive can be accessed here.

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