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5 tips to comply with regulations

We’ve collated the top tips that experts have provided to the shipping industry to ease the process of compliance with green regulations.

The world is embracing environmental sustainability, and the shipping industry is following suit by enforcing regulations to prevent further damage to water and air quality. This is, however, a challenge for the industry, as businesses are pressured to comply quickly with several regulations at the same time, and some of them are not clearly outlined yet!

Last year at Green Ship Technology North America, we asked for the industry stakeholders’ top tips to make compliance easier.

Research and evaluate

In any cases of disruption within an industry, the number one priority is research to ensure informed decisions.

“Lack of understanding is one of the main roadblocks”, said Walter Reggente, Vice President of Service Area Americas at Wartsila.

The EU’s Monitoring, Reporting and Verifying (MRV) regulation is the latest step towards a more comprehensive decarbonisation strategy. Ultimately, the industry is aiming to align itself with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree goal.

At the same time, the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention is calling for a D2 standard compliance, which requires shipowners to install ballast water treatment systems that are approved by the administration. For those who trade in US waters, non-compliance can have severe consequences.

John Dooley, President of Choice Ballast Solutions, said that shipping needs to know, “what it really takes to comply from the operational impact it has on your vessel to the treatment technology”.

Dooley continued: “[You need] to train your crew so that the crew are fully aware of how to operate the treatment systems along with the operations of the vessel.”

With various options available on the market, the choice between technologies will depend on a fleet’s individual needs. Therefore “evaluating different options to make sure they’re right” (Steve Candito, CEO at Ecochlor), is key to compliance.

“There is a convergence between the regulatory framework and demand with operational challenges”, Carleen Lyden-Kluss, Co-Founder and Executive Director of NAMEPA observed. “CFOs and CEOs are beginning to acknowledge this change and recognise that they have to pay attention and embrace it.”

Make sustainability your business

In many other industries, sustainability has become a branding opportunity that can affect customers’ behaviour towards you, especially the younger generation.

“If you can find a way to create value while creating sustainability, you can create a better business and environment, and you can create a more sustainable model for your company over the long haul”, said Mark Riggio, Senior Market Manager at Hyde Marine.

In an increasingly aging industry, shipping also faces the challenge of attracting young people. The millennials’, Gen Z’s, and Gen α’s eco-awareness, interest in environmental issues, and gravitation towards innovative industries are clear signs that sustainability will be important in more than one way for shipping.

“We really need to bring the younger people into this industry and listen to their voices”, said Lyden-Kluss. “So much of what we hear at events in the industry is rhetoric from the last century. I think we need to listen to the rhetoric of the 21st century as we lean into the future.”

Build “a strong compliance department”

Increasingly, businesses in the maritime industry have started to develop departments focusing on the reduction of environmental impacts. For example, Xodus Group, an offshore engineering consultant, has recently appointed Eric Houston as their Environmental Impact Assessment Manager, to aid compliance and help liaise with communities.

Kathy Metcalf, President and CEO of the Chamber of Shipping of America, urged the industry to “have a strong compliance department” that will be “forward-looking so you’re not only advising on what is required now but what is required tomorrow and the year after”.

“Then you need a good implementation programme”, Metcalf continued.

Nicole Pirot, Assistant Manager of Environmental Compliance at Excelerate Energy, shared what makes compliance easier for her company.

“For me, one of the things that helped me was auditing. Auditing the ships means that you have to go through the regulations to be able to prepare an audit. […] Another one is test; test your equipment, test for performance, test for compliance. Don’t just show yourself that it’s working, but also that it’s compliant.”

Be open to the public

There is public pressure on all business sectors to become greener, and maritime is no exception. Many companies that show their plans and initiatives towards sustainability often meet a welcoming response. But even if there isn’t an initiative in the business plan just yet, it is also important to keep communicating about what you are doing towards that.

“We continue to have the conversation about our public awareness or lack of visibility with the public”, Lyden-Kluss noted. “The public is demanding us to be green, but they don’t really understand what that means. And they don’t understand what the industry is doing towards that goal and towards that objective because they don’t understand the value proposition that the industry provides.”

This kind of PR activity can build your business’ image, start the necessary conversations within the industry, and show your company’s willingness to improve.

Strive for more

Uncertainty towards regulations is not new for shipping, but if the dates of compliance are tight and decision makers are pushing for stricter regulations in the long-term, what you can do is to set your bar higher.

Matt Hughes, Executive Vice president of Sales & Marketing at EnviroCleanse, notes that retrofits will be a thing of the past, and new ship designs will come with integrated systems.

It is, therefore, crucial for the industry to try to look past the minimum requirements and strive towards a plan that will last for decades and that will help with the near-term upcoming regulations.