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Enforcement of India’s requirement for ships to keep single-use plastic items locked in a store whilst in Indian territorial waters has been delayed until further notice, however, an identical prohibition will now be enforced in Kuwait.

Kuwait

On 28 November, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Communications issued Circular No. 08/2019 announcing its policy to prohibit the use of certain single-use plastic items onboard Kuwaiti and foreign ships while in port in Kuwait or in Kuwaiti waters. The items banned have been divided into two categories; items which are banned with immediate effect, and items which will be prohibited as of 1st January 2020.

Items prohibited with immediate effect:

  • cutlery, plates and cups
  • bottles up to 10 liters for water and other drinks
  • garbage and shopping bags
  • dispensing containers for cleaning fluids that are less than 10 liters in volume

Items prohibited 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 ship bags, bottle caps.

The new rule prohibits the carriage of any of the above items onboard Kuwaiti flagged ships. Foreign flagged ships are only prohibited from using any such item while operating in Kuwaiti waters and must keep all their single-use plastic items locked in a store during their stay in Kuwaiti ports and during their passage through the territorial waters of Kuwait.

India

The announced implementation of India’s policy to prohibit the use of certain single-use plastic items onboard ships, see our alert “India bans single-use plastic onboard ships” of 24 October 2019, has been postponed for the time being.  

In order to enable the shipping industry to put in place the necessary logistical arrangements to comply with the policy, the Indian Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) have agreed to work with the industry to establish a revised implementation schedule. On 21 November 2019, the DGS therefore published a notice to the industry stating that: “All ships including Cruise liners are permitted to operate on Indian waters till a revised implementation schedule is finalized and an "Addendum to the DGS Order No.05 of 2019" in this respect is issued. All ships are also permitted to avail reception facilities for all waste including single use plastics at all Indian ports.

Ensuring compliance

In order to document compliance during port state control, foreign flagged ships intending to enter a port in India or Kuwait will be required to make a log entry identifying:

  • the single use plastic items available onboard the ship;
  • where the items are stored while the ship operates in the country’s territorial waters; and
  • when (time, latitude and longitude) the items were placed in the store prior to entering territorial waters.

However, both governments state that no detention of foreign ships will be enforced on basis of the single-use plastic prohibitions when in force. It is also important to note that, the two countries will no longer permit single-use plastic items to be discharged to their port reception facilities. Ships trading frequently to India or Kuwait may therefore have to adjust their garbage management plan accordingly in order to facilitate discharge of single use plastic items elsewhere. Remember – under MARPOL Annex V, all plastic waste generated during the normal operation of the ship is strictly banned from discharge in any waters!

Avoiding single-use plastic

Even if the marine industry is not a major source of single-use plastic waste, it must still align its efforts with those of other industries to ensure its relative share of waste from marine-based activities and ports does not grow.

Guidelines adopted by the IMO recommend that "all shipowners and operators should minimize taking on board material that could become garbage". Specifically, the guidelines recommend that shipowners and operators, where possible with the ship’s suppliers, should consider the products being procured in terms of the garbage they will generate. Options include:

  • using supplies that come in bulk packaging, taking into account factors such as adequate shelf-life (once a container is opened) to avoid increasing garbage associated with such products;
  • using supplies that come in reusable or recyclable packaging and containers;
  • avoiding the use of disposable cups, utensils, dishes, towels and rags and other convenience items whenever possible; and
  • avoiding supplies that are packaged in plastic, unless reusable or recyclable plastic is used.

The problem of plastics in the ocean is global and growing. Change requires action from everyone, everywhere - on land and on sea. Further information is also available in our publications “Plastic in the Ocean – Why we should all be concerned“ and “MARPOL Annex V – the international convention banning the discharge of plastic and garbage from ships”.