The French shipping group CMA CGM stops transporting plastic waste on board its ships

In a decision considered historic for the shipping industry, French conglomerate CMA CGM – the third-largest shipping company in the world – has announced that it will protect the oceans and biodiversity from 1 January 2020. If other shipping companies follow suit, there will be a significant impact on use of plastic and the disposal of plastic waste.

In 2019, almost 10 million tons of plastic waste ended up in the sea. This affected more than 260 marine species. It is estimated that humans consume an average of 5 grams of plastic every week. If nothing is done, the amount of plastic waste will outpace animal life in the seas by 2050, the French leadership said. “By stopping the global flow of plastic waste, we minimize the likelihood that it will end up in places where it is not treated,” he added.

This decision by the CMA CGM would force countries like the US to reconsider their use of plastics as they cannot ship the waste to other countries like China. Experts say it’s only a matter of time before other shipping companies follow a similar policy.

One step further

Other major shipping companies — Maersk, MSC and Hapag-Lloyd in 2020 — halted plastic shipments to China, the largest importer of such cargo, particularly from the United States. However, CMA CGM has gone a step further and has banned plastic waste on board its ships worldwide. After China, the biggest importers of plastic waste are countries like Turkey, Canada, Vietnam and Thailand. The US is the largest exporter of plastic

“To ensure the effectiveness of this measure, we have introduced a HS code 3915 ban in our booking system. Incorrectly specifying the type of goods will result in the entity in question being blacklisted,” the French airline said. It added that too much plastic waste ends up in the oceans because it’s not treated properly at the destination, it added.

Interestingly, India was one of the first countries to ban single-use plastic items on board ships (both for use and as cargo) – both Indian and foreign flagged – in Indian territorial waters. This came into force on January 1, 2020.

Published on

June 03, 2022

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