Aboard the M/V Thalassa Desgagnés, a crew member automatically pitches the wrapping from a new product into a designated bin for plastics.

Recycling bins are everywhere on the Anna Desgagnés, even in the

Various bins on board make it quick, clean and easy to dispose of the already sorted recyclables and regular trash when the ship enters the Port of Montreal. As soon as the tanker arrives, Urgence Marine workers collect the contents of all the bins. Under regulations that came into effect in January, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) does not allow ships to dispose of any garbage at sea.
The Port of Montreal is well ahead of other ports in its preparedness for these new regulations through its longstanding partnership with Urgence Marine Inc. The company has been providing daily waste collection services for ships within port territory since Richard Berthiaume started Urgence Marine’s operations in 1979.

“We’ve created additional storage capacity to respond to the greater need that we anticipate from our clients as a result of the MARPOL changes,” he says.

For vessels without bins, Urgence Marine goes beyond the services offered at most ports by sorting all the waste during its collection.

The process not only separates paper and plastics, but ensures that potentially hazardous materials, such as batteries, neon lights, used oils, and expired medications, are kept intact for recycling, recuperation, or proper disposal.

“Our customized truck has specialized components in front of the regular garbage bin to safely transport these items,” says Yassir Satté, who is responsible for SST Environment at Urgence Marine. “The Port of Montreal is the only Eastern port with all of these services.”

Documented success

Daniel Côté, Transport Desgagnés’
environmental advisor.

Groupe Desgagnés contacted Urgence Marine to start an onboard recycling program aboard all its ships two years ago with the dual goals of significantly reducing the fleet’s volume of landfill waste and ensuring that hazardous substances would be handled properly.

Urgence Marine agreed to pick up the recyclable materials at the same time as the regular garbage without charging additional fees. “

As a result, Urgence Marine has increased its volume of recovered recyclables by 77 per cent in 2012 compared to a year earlier,” Berthiaume says.

Groupe Desgagnés is also meeting its objectives. Recyc-Québec awarded the M/V Camilla Desgagnés cargo vessel a Level 3 – Silver Echelon attestation for its 2012 recycling efforts. The Camilla Desgagnés is the first vessel in the province to obtain this recognition.

“In the beginning, the crew was skeptical. But now they want to win gold,” said François Lavoie, superintendent aboard the Camilla Desgagnés. He is thinking of starting a composting program aboard the vessel.

“By implementing significant measures to reduce, reuse and recycle, the ship was able to create some form of re-value for 84.2 per cent of the refuse generated by its operations,” says Daniel Côté, Transport Desgagnés Inc.’s environmental advisor. “Having this ship produce a fraction of its former garbage is important not only for Montreal’s landfills but the ship’s Arctic destinations.”

The crews aboard all the ships are now working towards avoiding the creation of garbage in the first place, and recycling the rest as much as possible. “We would not be able to do this to the extent that we are without the specialized services of Urgence Marine at the Port of Montreal,” Côté says.

Life cycle analysis

Groupe Desgagnés, Urgence Marine and the Montreal Port Authority are all members of Green Marine, a North American initiative by the marine transportation industry to continually improve its environmental performance. All three are involved in Green Marine’s working group devoted to taking a closer look at the best options for dealing with shipboard garbage.

“Members of this very proactive group are questioning when it might be more environmentally favourable to dispose of garbage through incineration at sea, for example, rather than burning additional fuel by transporting a heavy load of garbage long distances to a landfill site,” explains Françoise Quintus, Green Marine’s coordinator. “So we’re doing a life cycle analysis of the garbage aboard several vessels to evaluate the full impact of the available options.”

Green Marine has arranged for Ellipsos, a company specializing in sustainable development, to carry out the life cycle assessments. “We look at everything from the energy required to collect, transport, recycle and/or dispose of an item, to the impact of each step of the process on the equipment, structures, air, water, land used, as well as people’s health,” says Jean-Sébastien Trudel, Ellipsos’ president.

The results will help Green Marine to create decision-making tools for ship operators, port authorities and waste management companies to better determine when and where onboard garbage incineration might be preferable to recycling.

“We want to make sure that our good intentions are actually the right choices,” says Quintus.

Electronic reporting

Sylvain Perrier, head of Ship Waste Agency.

Ship Waste Agency, a company based in France, has created an electronic program called SWANET to ensure that everyone – crew, ship manager, ship agent, port authority, local authority, waste collector, and disposal, recycling or treatment centre managers – has exactly the same information at the same time about the garbage and recyclables from a ship.

“SWANET also makes sure that everyone is using the same language, units of measurement, and terms of reference when dealing with ship waste,” says Sylvain Perrier, Ship Waste Agency’s CEO.

New regulations will soon make it necessary for ship operators to categorize, as well as weigh or measure, the garbage, recyclables, hazardous materials and other waste generated by each vessel per journey.

“Electronic services, such as SWANET, will save companies time and, therefore, money when they do this reporting,” Perrier says. “It will also provide them with the benchmarks for reducing ship waste in the first place, which will also decrease the costs of handling garbage.”

Saving water

The Port of Montreal is ready with partner Urgence Marine to handle a wide range of liquid discharges from ships. Under the new MARPOL regulations, vessels are prohibited from pumping most substances overboard.

Urgence Marine has been removing the sludge residue from ship hulls for more than 20 years. “We can do the work while the vessel is in berth or at anchor, using our barge and/or truck,” Berthiaume says.

Another department has been cleaning out cargo holds for nearly 15 years. First the hold is swept well to recover any remnants of iron ore, nickel, zinc or other valuable minerals. Then a pressure wash is done until everything is clean.

Most of the big shipping companies have already hired Urgence Marine to clean their cargo holds. “Being environmental stewards, they prefer to have us wash the holds using only 30 tonnes to 40 tonnes of water compared to the 100 tonnes to 200 tonnes an onboard crew would go through,” Berthiaume says. “We use significantly less water by re-using a lot of it during a hose-down, and then over and over again for other washes after it’s treated.”

With the new MARPOL regulations, Urgence Marine expects more shipping companies to contract out the cleaning of their cargo holds: “Otherwise, it will be very costly to treat all that water they use before pumping it out or disposing of it properly.”

In winter, Urgence Marine is able to continue its operations by using a cleaning agent that doesn’t freeze in low temperatures. The cleaning solution is also treated for repeated use.

interim strategies

Relatively few ports have the cutting-edge services that the Port of Montreal is able to offer through its partnership with Urgence Marine. As a result, some of the major shipping companies have had to come up with other ways to respect the new MARPOL regulations.

CSL Group, for example, is having its new vessels built with onboard storage tanks so that a ship can hold onto water that it cannot have properly treated and discharged at some ports.

Urgence Marine was invited to see the storage tanks aboard the M/V Baie St. Paul when it arrived at the Port of Montreal from its maiden voyage in December.  “Each of the wash-down tanks can hold 172 metric tonnes of water,” Berthiaume says. “Storing wash-water is the only option until water treatment and disposal services become available at some ports.”

While some companies will still opt to do their own cleaning, the new MARPOL rules will require them to dispose of the water through a professional cleaning service. The new regulations, as well as concern by Canadian ship owners about the environmental impact of their operations, have Urgence Marine busy not only at the Port of Montreal but all of the ports along the St. Lawrence River.