TE Raja Simhan | Chennai, June 3 |
This decision by the CMA CGM would force countries like the USA to re-think their usage of plastics
In what is seen as an historic decision in the shipping industry, the French major CMA CGM — the world’s third largest shipping line — has announced that it has stopped transporting plastic waste on board its ships from June 1 to protect the oceans and biodiversity. If other shipping lines follow suit, it will have a significant impact on the usage of plastic and the disposal of plastic waste.
In 2019, nearly 10 million tonnes of plastic waste ended up in the sea. This impacted more than 260 marine species. It is estimated that humans ingest an average of 5 grams of plastic every week. If nothing is done, by 2050 the volume of plastic waste will exceed animal life in the seas, the French line said. “By putting a stop to the global flow of plastic waste, we are minimising the chances it will end up in places where it will not be treated,” it added.
This decision by the CMA CGM would force countries like the USA to re-think their usage of plastics as they will not be able to move the waste to other countries like China. Experts feel that it is only a matter of time before other shipping lines follow a similar policy.
A step further
Other major shipping lines — Maersk, MSC, and Hapag-Lloyd in 2020 — stopped taking plastic shipments to China, the largest importer of such cargo, especially from the US. However, CMA CGM has gone a step further by banning plastic waste on board its ships across the world. After China, the biggest importers of plastic waste are countries such as Turkey, Canada, Vietnam, and Thailand. The US is the biggest exporter of plastic
“To ensure the effectiveness of this measure, we have implemented a ban on HS code 3915 in our booking system. Misrepresentation of the nature of the goods will result in the blacklisting of the offending entity,” the French carrier said. It added that too much plastic waste ends up in the oceans because it is not properly treated at its destination, it added.
Interestingly, India was one of the first countries to prohibit single-use plastic items onboard ships (both for use and as cargo) — both Indian and foreign flagged — whilst in Indian territorial waters. This took effect from January 1, 2020.