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The latest amendments to MARPOL Annex V take effect on 1 March 2018 and require vessels to implement changes associated with the handling, management and record keeping of garbage onboard.


The current version of MARPOL Annex V entered into force on 1 January 2013 and prohibits the discharge of all garbage into the sea in general. The regulations apply to ships as well as to fixed and floating offshore installations and a simplified overview of the discharge provisions can be found on IMO’s website. New in 2013 was also the prohibition of discharge of residues from solid bulk cargoes classified as harmful to the marine environment (HME). However, while such discharges have been prohibited since 2013, MARPOL Annex V has not set out mandatory criteria for how to classify cargoes as either HME or non-HME.

Additional amendments to MARPOL Annex V were adopted at the 70th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 70) in October 2016 and enter into force on 1 March 2018. The amendments are contained within IMO Resolution MEPC.277(70) and significant changes are:

  • Inclusion of specific criteria for classifying solid bulk cargoes as HME, along with a requirement for shippers of solid bulk cargoes, other than grain, to declare whether or not the cargo is classified as HME in accordance with the criteria.
  • A new format for the Garbage Record Book, splitting the book into Part I and II. Part I shall be used to record discharges of garbage from all types of vessels and includes the new garbage category e-waste. Part II shall be used to record discharges of cargo residues from vessels carrying solid bulk cargoes, covering both HME and non-HME cargo residues.  
  • Along with an up to date Garbage Record Book, receipts obtained from receptions facilities must also be kept on board for a period of two years.

The IMO guidelines for the implementation of MARPOL Annex V has also been updated and is now aligned with the MARPOL amendments as well as the relevant requirements of the Polar Code. The latest version of the guidelines can be downloaded from the IMO website: Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships.


Members and clients must ensure that vessels have the required new format of the Garbage Record Book onboard from 1 March 2018 to ensure compliance with the amended MARPOL Annex V. Vessels’ Garbage Management Plans and Placards posted onboard should also be reviewed and revised as necessary so as to display valid garbage disposal requirements.

Unfortunately, no list of substances that are harmful to the marine environment (HME) under MARPOL Annex V exists. It is therefore all the more important that crews of vessels carrying solid bulk cargoes continue to verify that shippers’ cargo information states whether or not the cargo in question is harmful to the marine environment (HME). Such declaration should be included with the information required in section 4.2 of the IMSBC Code. Given that some ports may not be able to receive and process all types of waste, advanced planning is key, both with respect to minimising ship-generated residue/waste as well as considerations given to the logistical and commercial arrangements. As Members and clients may be aware, BIMCO published its new “HME Cargo Residues Disposal Clauses for Voyage Charter Parties” in response to the entry into force on 1 January 2013 of the revised MARPOL Annex V.

We would also like to remind vessel owners and operators that compliance with MARPOL Annex V entails that the crew is familiar with the current garbage disposal requirements and have a clear understanding of the conditions permitting certain discharges. The “Consolidated Guidance for Port Reception Facility providers and users” (MEPC.1/Circ.834) is intended to be a practical users’ guide for vessels’ crew who seek to deliver MARPOL residues/wastes ashore and provides a basis for establishing best practice procedures. To support the establishment of adequate reception facilities world-wide, Members and clients should encourage their Masters to report any inadequacies for port reception facilities in accordance with the procedures set out in Appendix 1 of the circular. The latest version of the guidance document can be downloaded from the IMO website: Reception Facilities.