ARCHIVED Annex D Summary of Key Legislation

Summary of Key Legislation relevant to Port Waste Management

MARPOL 73/78

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978, (known as MARPOL 73/78) contains regulations covering the various sources of ship-generated pollution. These regulations are contained in five annexes. The Convention was further modified by the Protocol of 1997, whereby a sixth Annex was adopted.

The six MARPOL Annexes are summarised in the table below.


Regulations for the Prevention of:

In force

Reception Facilities


Pollution by oil

October 1983



Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk

April 1987



Pollution by Harmful Substances in Package Form

July 1992

Not Required


Pollution by Sewage

Sept 2003 & Revised Aug 2002



Pollution by Garbage

December 1988



Air Pollution from Ships

May 2005


The UK Government, as a party to MARPOL 73/78, is required to ensure that Port Authorities provide waste reception facilities which are adequate and do not cause undue delay to ships using them.

Similarly, MARPOL 73/78 regulates the type and amount of waste that all ships are permitted to discharge at sea. For example, in most areas of the UK’s territorial waters ships can legally and safely dispose of biodegradable wastes overboard at least three miles offshore. Within 12 miles of the shore general garbage and food wastes must be macerated and comminuted before discharge (excluding plastics, dunnage, lining materials etc), but within 3 miles of the coast no garbage waste can be thrown overboard. In MARPOL Special Areas, however, the disposal of any garbage is prohibited within 12 miles of land. The seaward approaches to the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary are not designated as MARPOL Special Areas, although the English Channel and North Sea are.

Annex VI of MARPOL, Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships (amended), entered into force in May 2005, setting limits on sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ship exhausts and prohibiting deliberate emissions of ozone-depleting substances. Ports are required to provide reception facilities for the wastes residues from exhaust gas cleaning systems.

The European Commission enforces the implementation of MARPOL 73/78 by producing Directives that are binding on all European Member States. The relevant European January 2013 Port Waste Management Plan, Issue 33 3, Revision 2 legislation is Directive is 2000/59/EC on port reception facilities for ship-generated waste  and cargo residues, which was amended by Directive 2002/84/EC and Commission Directive 2007/71/EC. The requirements of MARPOL 73/78 and the associated EC Directives are implemented in the UK through various Merchant Shipping Regulations.


The requirement for Harbour Authorities to plan for the provision of reception facilities for certain ship-generated wastes was first introduced by the Merchant Shipping (Port Waste Reception Facilities) Regulations 1997. These Regulations require that port waste management plans are subject to approval by the MCA and that the amounts and types of waste landed in ports are reported to the MCA on an annual basis. The 1997 Regulations were later replaced by the Merchant Shipping & Fishing Vessels (Port Waste Reception Facilities) Regulations 2003 which implement the EC Directive 2000/59/EC on port reception facilities. These Regulations introduced a number of significant changes to the waste management responsibilities of ports and vessels, including the following key requirements:

  • All ships must provide prior notification, 24 hours before entry into the Port, of the waste they are carrying and intend to discharge, including information on types and quantities of waste and amounts of waste retained on board.
  • All ships must deliver all of their waste to port reception facilities before leaving the Port, unless they can demonstrate sufficient dedicated storage capacity on board to store the existing waste and the additional waste that will be generated before the next port of call.
  • All ships must pay a mandatory charge for the provision of port reception facilities for ship-generated waste, whether they use them or not.

These requirements to notify waste and pay mandatory charges do not apply to certain types of vessel, such as fishing vessels and small recreational craft (Section 8). In addition, the MCA can give exemptions in certain circumstances to vessels from notifying and offloading waste and paying the mandatory charge (Section 14). Harbour Authorities are required to inform the MCA if they have clear evidence that a ship has proceeded to sea without complying with the requirements of the Regulations.

The 2003 Regulations have been amended by the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Port Waste Reception Facilities) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 which came into force in May 2009. Amongst other things, these amending Regulations extend the above requirements for pre-notification and delivery of sewage wastes in reception facilities in UK ports. Sewage wastes may be discharged at sea in accordance with Regulation 11 of Annex IV of MARPOL 73/78.

The 2003 Regulations, as amended, apply to all prescribed wastes which are: ship-generated waste, cargo residues and noxious liquid substances. Ship-generated waste is defined in the Regulations as wastes and residues generated during the service of the ship and which fall into the categories of garbage, sewage, oil and oily mixtures. Exhaust gas cleaning residue and ozone depleting substances removed from ships and delivered to reception facilities are considered to be ship-generated wastes under the 2003 Regulations (see Schedule 6 of Merchant Shipping Notice 1819). The Port Waste Reception Facilities Regulations 2003, and its amending legislation, do not apply fully, or at all, to some types of vessels, as listed in the table below.

Application of the 2003 Regulations to certain types of ship (based on Marine Guidance Note 387)

Ship Type

Requirements under the 2003 Regs as amended

  1. Vessels under the Small         Commercial Vessel Code of      Practice

Are exempt from the requirements to notify and to pay the mandatory charge but required to deliver their waste to port (see harmonised Small Commercial Vessel Code of Practice)

  1. Warships, Naval Auxiliary Ships and Vessels owned or operated by a state, and on government non-commercial service (e.g. H M Customs & Excise vessels)


The Regulations do not apply to these vessels, but they are encouraged to follow the spirit of the Regs and to adopt sound waste management practice.

3.  Class IV Passenger Ships

Fall outside the scope of the 2003 Regs as amended.  Should adopt good waste management practice in accordance with the Domestic Safety Management Code (See MGN 387 for definition of Class IV-VI (A) Passenger Ships.


4.  Class V Passenger Ships 

5.  Class VI Passenger Ships

6.  Class VI (A) Passenger Ships

7. Class IX (A) – Ships (other than    ships of class IV to VI inclusive) which do not proceed to sea.

The 2003 Regs as amended do not apply but these ships are encouraged to ensure that their ships-generated wastes are handled in an environmentally sound manner.  If the ship proceeds to sea then it must fulfil the requirements of the 2003 Regs as amended.

8.  Class IX (A) (T) – Tankers do not proceed to sea

The 2003 Regs as amended do not apply but these ships are encouraged to ensure that their ships-generated wastes are handled in an environmentally sound manner.  If the ship proceeds to sea then it must fulfil the requirements of the 2003 Regs as amended.

9.  Fishing Vessels excluding factory ships

Fishing vessels are required to offload all ship-generated waste (other than sewage) to shore reception facilities but are not required to notify the harbour authority or terminal operator in advance or to pay the mandatory charge.  They should make arrangements and payment for the landing of waste with the harbour terminal in question.

10. Recreational Craft authorised to                  carry, or designed to carry, no more         than 12 passengers.

These ships are required to offload all ship-generated waste (other than sewage) to shore reception facilities but are not required to notify the harbour authority or terminal operator in advance or pay the mandatory charge.  They should make arrangements and payment for the landing of waste with the harbour terminal in question.


The MCGA enforce these Regulations in the UK. Guidance on the 2003 Regulations and its amending legislation is provided in the MCGA’s Marine Guidance Note 387



The Environmental Protection Act 1990, as amended, imposes a Duty of Care (set out in Section 34) upon any persons concerned with controlled waste to ensure that the waste is managed properly, recovered or disposed of safely, and does not cause harm to human health or pollution of the environment. Waste must only be transferred to an authorised person (i.e. a holder of a Waste Management Licence) under the Waste (England and Wales Regulations) 2011 or a registered waste carrier or broker under the Controlled Waste (Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicles) Regulations 1991, as amended. This Duty of Care applies to any person who produces, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of controlled waste or as a broker has control of such waste.

A waste management licence is a legal document, issued under Section 36 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as amended. Waste management licences are issued by the Environment Agency and work to ensure that the authorised activities do not cause pollution of the environment, harm to human health or serious detriment to local amenities. There are two types of waste management licence: a site licence (authorising the deposit, recovery or disposal of controlled waste in or on land), or a mobile plant licence (authorising the recovery or disposal of controlled waste using certain types of mobile plant).

All waste contractors involved in the reception, transport and disposal of ship’s waste must be licensed with the Environment Agency. Under the Environmental Protection Duty of Care) Regulations 1991, as amended, parties transferring waste are required to complete and retain a “transfer note”, containing a written description of that waste. These waste transfer notes must be kept for a minimum of 2 years.


The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, as amended in 2011 and 2012, provides a single permitting system for waste management licensing, pollution prevention and control, discharge consents and other authorisations. Usually any waste treatment, recovery or disposal operation needs to be authorised by a permit, however, low risk waste handling operations can be covered by exemptions and therefore do not require a permit. The temporary storage of ship’s garbage or tank washings is exempt and this exemption does not need to be registered with the Environment Agency.


The Environmental Permitting Regulations impose restrictions on the type and amount of waste that can be disposed of in landfills in England and Wales (replacing and revoking the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002, and its associated amendments). These regulations implement the EU Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) which introduced the requirement to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill. This introduced, amongst other things, a requirement to treat most wastes prior to disposal at landfill and a ban on the disposal of certain wastes to landfill (e.g. liquid waste and certain hazardous wastes). The Regulations define treatment of waste as "physical, thermal, chemical or biological processes (including sorting) that change the characteristics of waste in order to reduce its volume or hazardous nature, facilitate its handling or enhance recovery.” These Regulations are enforced by the Environment Agency.


The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations and the List of Wastes (England) Regulations came into force in July 2005. These Regulations replaced the Special Waste Regulations 1996 which transposed the requirements of the EU Hazardous Waste Directive (91/689/EEC), setting out procedures to be followed when disposing of, carrying and receiving hazardous waste. In April 2011, the Hazardous Waste Regulations were amended to implement the revised Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) through the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011. These Regulations are enforced by the Environment Agency.

The Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005, as amended, provide a definition of hazardous waste, ensure cradle-to-grave documentation for the movement of hazardous waste and require most producers of hazardous waste to notify their premises to the Environment Agency. Waste is defined as hazardous if it appears as an entry in the European Waste Catalogue and is contained in the “List of Wastes Regulations England 2005”, as amended

A record must be made of what is in the waste and the specific risk it presents, the dates, addresses and times when waste leaves one site and arrives at another, and the names and contact information of the people involved at each stage of the hazardous wastes journey. This information is recorded in a consignment note. Therefore before the waste is removed from the ship the producer and consignor of the waste (i.e. the ship’s Master) must:

  • prepare two copies of the consignment note;
  • complete Parts A, B and D on each copy;
  • retain one copy; and
  • give one copy to the consignee (i.e. the authorised waste contractor)

On receiving and accepting delivery of a consignment of hazardous waste the waste contractor shall complete Part E on the copy which he has received. Both the waste contractor and the Master of the ship should receive a completed copy of the consignment note. Typically in the Port the waste contractor is the consignee of the waste and in these circumstances Part C of the consignment note does not need to be completed. However, where the waste contractor is the carrier of the waste, but not the consignee, the above procedure is modified according to Environment Agency guidelines


Food and galley waste landed by ships is also controlled through the European Animal By-Products Regulations (1069/2009/EC and 142/2011/EU) which lay down health rules for animal by-products not intended for human consumption. These Regulations are enforced under the Animal by-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2011 which replace the Animal By-Products Regulations 2005, as amended in 2009.

These Regulations lay down the requirements for the reception, transport and disposal of International Catering Waste i.e. Category 1 animal by-products that are not intended for human consumption. International Catering Waste represents a high risk of disease if it enters the human and animal food chain. Therefore, the Animal By-Products Regulations lays down special reception, treatment and disposal requirements for this waste. Ship’s International Catering Waste can be defined as food, galley waste and associated packaging generated by ships that have visited a port outside the European Economic Area (see list of countries below). This waste is also referred to as non-EU galley waste/garbage in this waste management plan.

If International Catering Waste is mixed with other types of waste it must all be treated according to the Animal By-Products Regulations.

Guidance on the handling and disposal of International Catering Waste landed from ships can be found on Defra’s website ( The Port supplies and services enclosed, leak-proof International Catering Waste skips in accordance with the Regulations and Defra’s guidelines for catering waste from international means of transport. Ships’ Masters are considered to be the producers of International Catering Waste and it is their responsibility to ensure that this waste is notified to TBPC and offloaded correctly in the specific waste reception facilities provided.

Catering waste from ships would not be considered to be international catering waste if a Ship’s Master provides a declaration that the ship’s stores have been completely emptied, cleaned, disinfected and re-stocked in the EU. Further guidance on how such a declaration should be made, including a declaration form, can be found on Defra’s website


The completed declaration must be submitted to the Port for audit by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency. Separation of recyclable items from International Catering Waste must occur on board ship prior to the waste entering a bin or plastic bag. Recyclable items must not contain or be soiled with International Catering Waste, including milk products. Compactors can be used to reduce the volume of waste, provided that they are under cover and there are controls on the liquid run-off from the compactor, as agreed with Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency Officers. Compactor vehicles are currently not considered suitable for handling ICW due to concerns about the control of liquid run-off. Defra Inspectors from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency regularly inspect the Port’s waste reception facilities provided for International Catering Waste and are responsible for the enforcement of Animal By-Products Regulations in England.