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Why Reclamation Of Hull Cleaning Waste Material Is Essential To Ensure A Clean And Sustainable Future For The Maritime Industry

Social responsibility, social governance, sustainability… the need for corporations to be good and do good has never been greater. This is especially true when it comes to those whose business takes them to our seas and oceans.

The delicate state of the planet’s ecosystem means new regulations are frequently coming in to ensure the best practice to protect marine life and the seas.

Underwater ship hull cleaning is sometimes a necessary activity for many vessel owners, but is one that can result in substantial amounts of waste being produced. This is why recovering waste material or reclamation is vital for the sustainable future of the industry, according to the experts at marine coatings manufacturer AkzoNobel.

Reclaiming the waste generated from hull cleaning operations provides assurance to vessel operators that materials generated from their operations are handled in a sustainable, environmentally and socially responsible manner. Without reclamation, it’s fair to say that no-one can be truly serious about their sustainability credentials.

By doing this, any paint debris and biofouling arising from the cleaning operation is gathered and can be safely disposed of, rather than accumulating in the area where the hull cleaning has been undertaken. This minimises the potential for any invasive biofouling species moving to a new place where it does not belong.

This is a crucial aspect and one that is firmly in the spotlight of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) guidance, as well as other initiatives such as the recently launched Clean Hull initiative (CHI).

CHI is being led by the Bellona Foundation to create a new standard, focusing on ‘proactive hull cleaning’, which by definition is a standard which vessel owners can choose to adopt or not, it is not a regulation. AkzoNobel, as a marine coatings manufacturer, intends to take part in this initiative, but will always insist that reclamation is part of the process.

In 2020, the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) developed the first global standard for ship hull cleaning, that focused on the need for reclamation, diver safety and maintaining the performance of the fouling control coating applied onto a ship’s hull.

The IMO has also embarked on the Glofouling initiative to review both the commercial impact of biofouling accumulation on hulls and the potential for shipping to act as a vector for the translocation of invasive species. This may result in the introduction of new regulatory rules to maintain clean hulls, depending on the outcome of the study.

With all this industry activity, the importance of reclamation in the hull cleaning process is clear both now and for the future. Indeed, some ports including Southampton and Rotterdam do not allow cleaning without reclamation which means that any non-compliant systems (either shore-based or deployed onboard vessels) are effectively banned from use.

Chris Birkert, Marine Segment Manager at AkzoNobel, says: “AkzoNobel leads the sector with its innovative Intertrac® HullCare system. The proactive and optimised cleaning regime is designed to maintain performance over the operational cycle of deep-sea trading vessels, while they are conducting their normal operations.

“Unlike diver operated brush cleaning methods which can increase the risk of damage and potentially reduce the effective scheme life of a fouling control system, Intertrac HullCare uses technology which cleans the surface with water jets and reclamation with sustainable waste disposal routes.

“AkzoNobel has specifically selected cleaning partners with an established track record, industry leading knowledge and expertise, port presence and reliable and mature technology availability.

“The cleaning technologies have been demonstrated to effectively clean fouling control coatings with no loss of scheme integrity, optimise foul release performance, deliver a clean hull and help to minimise the risk of translocation of invasive species.

“The combination of ultra performance fouling control coatings and pro-active hull cleaning with fouling reclamation as standard, boosts fuel and emissions savings and makes Intertrac HullCare one of the most sustainable hull performance packages in the marine industry.

“All of this is achieved with minimal impact to vessel operations and without upfront capital investment or vessel modification.”

Not all organisations in the marine industry see the importance of reclamation as part of the hull cleaning process. Many speak earnestly about sustainability and protecting the environment, while failing to mention the importance of reclamation.

However, as the industry becomes ever more focused on providing a sustainable future, this lack of a focus on reclamation is short-sighted according to Birkert.

He says: “If waste debris is not handled properly and disposed of in a responsible manner, it has the potential to steadily accumulate in ports and harbours and may cause unintended harm.

“Invasive biofouling species can spread into new habitats and waterways, leading to a destructive impact on local ecosystems and an even greater potential knock-on impact on national and international economies.

“From the point of view of a vessel owner or operation, there will likely be limitations too on cleaning operations imposed in ports and harbours by local authorities to insist on the highest standards of social governance when it comes to cleaning and reclamation.

“If vessels are not cleaned when they require it, this also leads to higher fuel consumption and vessel emissions, hitting the operator in the pocket.”

CHI is being led by the Bellona Foundation to create a new standard, focusing on ‘proactive hull cleaning’, which by definition is a standard which vessel owners can choose to adopt or not, it is not a regulation. AkzoNobel, as a marine coatings manufacturer, intends to take part in this initiative, but will always insist that reclamation is part of the process to minimise the risk of translocation of invasive species.

To find out more about Intertrac HullCare please visit https://www.international-marine.com/in-focus/intertrac-hullcare
Source: AkzoNobel

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