Ships’ Garbage Management under Revised MARPOL Annex V

Revised MARPOL Annex V sets new regulatory requirements regarding the disposal of garbage from ships and will come into force on 1 January 2013. The new amendments prohibit the disposal of almost all kinds of garbage at sea with the exemption under specific requirements of food waste, animal carcasses, cargo residues contained in wash water and environmental friendly cleaning agents. As a result of these regulations more and more ships will dispose their ship-generated waste to reception facilities ashore. MARPOL Annex V applies to all ships.

Generally, discharge is restricted to food wastes, identified cargo residues, animal carcasses, and identified cleaning agents and additives in washwater which are not harmful to the marine environment. Garbage discharge regulations do not apply when the discharge of garbage from a ship was a necessary action for the purpose of securing the safety of a ship and those on board or saving life at sea. In such cases an entry should be made in the Garbage Record Book, or in the ship’s official log-book for ships of less than 400 gross tonnage.

According to revised MARPOL Annex V shipboard generated garbage is to be grouped into the following categories:

  1. Plastics – Garbage that consists of or includes plastic in any form, including synthetic ropes, synthetic fishing nets, plastic garbage bags and incinerator ashes from plastic products. Garbage under this category is prohibited to be discharged at sea.
  2. Food wastes –  Spoiled or unspoiled food substances. Food wastes may be discharged at sea under specific circumstances/requirements (refer to the simplified overview of the discharge provisions of the revised MARPOL Annex V developed by IMO).
  3. Domestic Wastes – Garbage generated mainly in the accommodation spaces on board the ship (e.g. drinking bottles, papers, cardboard etc). Garbage under this category is prohibited to be discharged at sea.
  4. Cooking Oil – Edible oil or animal fat used for the preparation or cooking of food. Garbage under this category is prohibited to be discharged at sea.
  5. Incinerator ashes – Ash and clinkers resulting from shipboard incinerators used for the incineration of garbage. Garbage under this category is prohibited to be discharged at sea.
  6. Operational wastes – Solid wastes (including slurries) that are collected on board during normal maintenance or operations of a ship, or used for cargo stowage and handling. Operational wastes also includes cleaning agents and additives contained in cargo hold and external wash water that may be harmful to the aquatic environment. Operational wastes does not include grey water, bilge water, or other similar discharges essential to the operation of a ship (boiler/economizer blowdown, gas turbine washwater, machinery wastewater etc). Garbage under this category is prohibited to be discharged at sea.
  7. Cargo residues – Remnants of any cargo which remain on the deck or in holds following loading or unloading. This category does not include cargo dust remaining on the deck after sweeping or dust on the external surfaces of the ship. Such garbage may be discharged at sea under specific circumstances/requirements (refer to the simplified overview of the discharge provisions of the revised MARPOL Annex V developed by IMO). It is essential to remember that besides other requirements (e.g. distance from shore) cargo residues in order to be discharged at sea they should not be harmful to the marine environment. Cargo residues which are considered harmful to the marine environment are classified according to the criteria of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UN GHS) meeting parameters such as: acute aquatic toxicity category 1, chronic aquatic toxicity category, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity etc
  8. Animal Carcasses – Bodies of any animals that are carried on board as cargo and that die or are euthanized during the voyage. Discharge of such wastes permitted at sea under specific circumstances/requirements (refer to the simplified overview of the discharge provisions of the revised MARPOL Annex V developed by IMO).
  9. Fishing Gear – Physical device that may be placed on or in the water or on the sea-bed with the intended purpose of capturing  marine or fresh water organisms. Garbage under this category is prohibited to be discharged at sea.

These new categories represent the categories to be used for record purposes in the Garbage Record Book. The superseded MARPOL Annex V defined six categories whereas the revised annex defines nine.

Regarding the cleaning agents mentioned above, a cleaning agent or additive is considered as not harmful for the marine environment when:

  1. The Chemical used is not a “harmful substance” in accordance with the criteria in  MARPOL Annex III. This means substances identified by criteria such as Acute (short-term) aquatic hazard, rapidly or non-rapidly degradable substances for which there are adequate chronic toxicity data available and substances for which adequate chronic toxicity data are not available. Tables containing criteria values for the identification of harmful substances as per revised MARPOL Annex III can be found HERE. Mentioned criteria are based on those developed by the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), as amended. The GHS can be found HERE.
  2. The Chemical used does not contain any components which are known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic (CMR). In order to identify such components the GESAMP list can be used.

To sum up the above, when a ship is discharging chemicals agents from hold wash water to the sea and records such action to the Garbage Record Book then the ship should be able at any time to provide evidence that the cleaning agent or additive used was not harmful to the environment. Such evidence may be provided by the chemicals’ manufacturer under the form of signed and dated statements providing information that the chemical/product meets the criteria for not being harmful to the marine environment. This might form part of a Safety Data Sheet or be a stand-alone document.

Of course the same applies for the cargo that was previously stored within the hold, meaning that hold wash water and cargo residues cannot be discharged if the previous cargo contained within the ship’s hold was not declared as not being harmful to the marine environment according to Section 4.2 of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code.

In case garbage is mixed with or contaminated by other garbage which have different discharge requirements, the more stringent requirements shall apply. For example, if a vessel is sailing within a special area and has mixed comminuted food waste with food waste that is no comminuted then according to the revised MARPOL Annex V regulations the vessel should not discharge the food waste mixture to the sea.

A simplified overview of the discharge provisions of the revised MARPOL Annex V which will enter into force on 1 January 2013 has been developed by the IMO and is presented here below

1 These substances must not be harmful to the marine environment.
2 Discharge shall only be allowed if: (a) both the port of departure and
the next port of destination are within the special area and the ship will not transit outside the special area between these
ports (regulation; and (b) if no adequate reception facilities are available at those ports (regulation

It is likely that shipboard garbage destined to be sent to a port waste reception facility will need to be segregated. The requirements for the port concerned should be sought and followed in this respect. Given that some ports may not be able to receive and process all types of waste, the garbage processing capability of the port should be checked prior to arrival.

Every ship of 12 m or more in length overall and fixed or floating platforms shall display placards which notify/inform the crew and the passengers regarding the discharge requirements that apply to the ship. The placards shall be written in the working language of the ship’s crew and in English or French or Spanish (this requirement remains the same with the one of the superseded regulation of MARPOL Annex V)

Every ship of 100 gross tonnage (instead of 400 GT required by the superseded MARPOL Annex V) and above, and every ship which is certified to carry 15 or more persons, shall carry a garbage management plan (based on IMO Guidelines MEPC.220(63) and in working language of the crew) containing procedures on

  1. garbage minimization
  2. garbage collection
  3. garbage storage
  4. garbage processing
  5. garbage disposal
  6. equipment used onboard for handling of garbage
  7. the designation of the person or persons in charge for implementing the Garbage Management Plan

In addition to the Garbage Management Plan every ship of 400 gross tonnage and above and every ship which is certified to carry 15 or more persons engaged in voyages to ports which are  under the jurisdiction of another Party to the Convention should maintain a Garbage Record Book  in the form specified in the appendix of the revised Annex. The requirement to maintain a Garbage Record Book remains the same with the superseded MARPOL Annex V with the difference that the layout of the form which will record the garbage discharges is different from the superseded one.

Apart from the above which are requirements of the revised MARPOL Annex V, in order to enhance the implementation of the onboard Garbage Management Plan and to exercise better garbage handling procedures in overall, meaning from the generation of the garbage onboard to the appropriate disposal of them, ships’ crews and agents could make use of IMO’s developed standard format for the advance notification of waste delivery to port reception facilities as defined in IMO Circular MEPC.1/Circ.644.

In addition, where a ships’ Master or agent finds reception facilities in a port inadequate (for example the facility required is not available or is inconveniently located, has unreasonable charges and/or cause undue delay) the Master should forward the information contained in MEPC.1/Circ.469/Rev.1, together with any supporting documentation, to the Administration of the flag State and, if possible, to the competent Authorities in the port State.

Finally, following a ships’ use of port reception facilities the ships’ crews and agents should encourage waste reception facilities service providers to use the IMO standard format for the waste delivery receipt as outlined in MEPC.1/Circ.645

For further reading regarding Garbage Management and revised MARPOL Annex V requirements you can also refer to the following:


  1. Georgios Houndalas says:

    Anybody to advise or give an example of how to fill in the new Garbage Record Form?
    For example in case of a discharge to the reception facilities we do the following: at the first column we place date and time of the discharge, at the second one we place the port facility or name of ship (we assume the reception tug or barge), at the third one the categories of garbage discharged, at the fourth one the amount for each category in cubic meters, and the we have the signature of the officer.
    My question is what kind of information we have to place at the 6th column (to reception facility) and why?

    • Although it is not fully clarified within the IMO MEPC 201(62) MARPOL Annex V par. 4 “Entries in the Garbage Record Book” a practical approach on your question would be to either record at the second column the name of the port reception facility or barge (as you already do), but along with the position of the vessel. At the sixth column you could just put a “tick” or a “YES” and at the 5th and 7th column (“To Sea” & “Incineration” respectively) you could write “N/A” for “Not Applicable” or leave them empty.

      Another approach would be to put the position of the vessel at the second column and the name of the reception facility at the sixth.

      Since the regulation has just entered into force it remains to be seen what the shipboard practice will be, most probably as long as the information required in MEPC 201(62) MARPOL Annex V par. 4 is being recorded then the vessel should be compliant regarding garbage recording.

      • kyriakos Kalandranis says:

        Good day to All,
        As many officers seek for a solid advice on how to made correct entries in the revised Garbage Record Book, we would appreciate receiving at your convenience your valuable feedback (if any) and assistance in this matter.

    • MARPOL Inspector (State Environmental Inspector) says:

      The answer of the OFFICER below is quite correct. Yes, the new form of GRB is stupid, but that’s it. How to fill it? Make records only in case of an operation such as garbage discharge at sea, or at a PRF, or incineration (daily records od a type “dd/mm/yyyy All the garbage kept on board are not a must). So starting column by column: 1. date/time, 2. name of port or coordinates at sea; 3. garbage category (A, B, C, D….I), 4. quantity of that garbage in cub.m!!!; then you should mark in one of the next three columns (5,6 or 7) what actually you did with that waste (5 – disch. at sea, 6 – deliver to a PRF, or 7 – inciner.), but you must choose ONE of those columns (5 or 6 or 7); mark with “X” or “tick” or “Yes/no”. And remember – the only place for recording quantity (in cub.m) is the 4th column!!!

  2. Dear Pro’s,
    Until 31.12.2012 we dumped cooking oil into the sludge tank and discharged it to shore facilities.
    Question: can I / we still practise this after 1.1.2013? And: how to record this?

  3. Regarding the question above on cooking oil.

    MEPC.201(62), Regulation 3, par.3 clearly states that “Except as provided in regulation 7 of this Annex, the discharge into the sea of cooking oil is prohibited.” (Regulation 7 allows discharge in cases of emergency ONLY or accidental losses due to ship damage)

    So since cooking oil is prohibited to be discharged at sea you should still exercise the same practice as you state and discharge cooking oil to shore facilities.

    BUT the following guideline should be kept also in mind:

    MEPC.219(63) section 5 par. 5.2 states “It should be noted that, due to differences in port reception procedures and additional treatment among ports, port reception facilities may require the separation on board of .2 cooking oil (animal derived products and by-products because of risk of animal diseases)”

    Meaning cooking oil should be stored separately (e.g. separate drums) from other garbage/wastes prior being discharged ashore, if possible.

    In addition MEPC.201(62), Appendix par. 4.2 states “The amount of garbage on board should be estimated in cubic metres, if possible separately according to category.”

    Therefore it should be best to keep cooking oil stored separately (if possible), and discharge it ashore.

    Finally by keeping cooking oil stored separately it is easier to record its quantities to IMO’s “Record of Garbage Discharges” only.

    Nevertheless, another practice is the one mentioned above: “dumped cooking oil into the sludge tank and discharged it to shore facilities” which is a compliant practice as long as an entry to the Oil Record Book is being made. Additionally another practice could be to burn the cooking oil in the incinerator.


    Why always very strict rules and regulations for only Shipping, we the seafarers already burdened with lot of jobs on board and to make it worse the reduced man power due to the company’s new cost cutting strategies.Apart from shipping, stricter rules and regulations must be imposed on the effluents and garbage that is discharged from the land based industries and domestic waste from all countries irrespective of who is super power and rich countries.
    I believe it is more people live in land and more toxic effluents from industries than shipping.We the seafarers are always soft targets .
    Of course it is everybody’s duty to keep the environments clean.
    Like the rules that is imposed on shipping every village/district/state/country must be regulated and monitored strictly.
    I am a seafarer and it hurts me when we implement so many rules and regulation in ship and finally what we see on land and associated port and their surroundings……….

  5. Nikos Martis says:

    What about handling of cargo residues and wash water of cargo holds?
    How is master notified if the bulk cargo to load is harmful to the environment?
    In case that the burgo is harmful to the environment, how the master shall wash the holds and how he shall keep this water on board for delivery to reception facilities?

    • The Master should know if the vessel’s cargo is harmful or not through the shipper’s declaration. More specifically the cargo declaration form as required in section 4.2 of the IMSBC Code should now contain a provisional declaration stating whether the cargo is HME or not. This declaration could additionally be provided in a material or product safety data sheet (SDS) or a letter of declaration regarding HME.

      A SAMPLE of such declaration can be found in the following link AMSA Shippers’ Declaration SAMPLE if you notice at the bottom of the page the form states “EHS/Marine Pollutant YES NO” etc this is the section where a cargo is declared hazardous or not.

      Regarding the second question about the handling of wash water from cargo residues that is considered to be harmful (either because the cargo is classed as harmful to the environment or because the cleaning agents used are not environmental friendly), that kind of washwater should be discharged at port reception facilities. In the unfortunate event such facilities do not exist where the vessel operates then the wash water could be stored in a vessels tank, if this is possible.

      For washing a cargo hold where previously harmful cargo was stored usual practices should be applied unless the shipper’s declaration or the cargo’s safety data sheets state a specific way on how to wash the cargo to remove cargo residues.

      Another good question is “What happens if the cargo residues wash water is harmful and no appropriate port reception facilities exist and there is no way to somehow store the washwater onboard the vessel?”.

      • Nikos Martis says:

        Thanks very much for the reply.
        So actually when vessel is chartered, shippers should be requested to provide this declaration. Then, if the cargo is HME, master should collect wash water (because usually washing performed after sailing from the discharging port, and arrange to deliver it to the next port. In this case, vessel should has a suitable tank for collection which shall have means to deliver ashore. And this is not easy.

        thanks and regards

    • In addition to what is already discussed above it should also be noted that the IMO is expected to issue a circular with guidance regarding the disposal of cargo residues and cargo hold washing water containing residues of cargoes classified as Harmful to the Marine Environment (HME) when adequate port reception facilities are not available. So it appears that difficulties in implementing said requirements have been highlighted well enough in order to issue a DRAFT circular with a proposal on what can be done until adequate shore facilities can be available in more ports. The DRAFT circular can be found in the following link:

      So the proposed interim solution states that discharge of cargo hold wash water from holds previously containing cargoes classified as HME may be allowed when:
      1) based upon the information received from the relevant port authorities, the master determines that there are no adequate reception facilities at the receiving terminal;
      2) the ship is en route and as far as practicable from the nearest land, but not less than 12 nautical miles;
      3) before washing, dry cargo residue is removed (and bagged for discharge ashore) as far as practicable and holds are swept;
      4) the volume of wash water used is kept to a minimum;
      5) filters are used in the bilge wells to collect any remaining solid particles and minimize solid residue discharge; and
      6) the discharge is recorded in the Garbage Record Book and the flag State is notified utilizing the Revised Consolidated Format for Reporting Alleged Inadequacies of Port Reception Facilities (MEPC.1/Circ.469/Rev.1, issued on 13 July 2007).

      The proposal was submitted by Liberia, Marshall Islands, Panama, ICS, BIMCO and INTERCARGO.

  6. mike hunt says:

    Can anyone help me out with a query, we travel to the 12nm limit to discharge sewage ,do we record this and where .The vessels GRT is 350t in GL survey Cheers

  7. elizer eroy says:

    can we incinerate oily rags and papers through ship’s incinerator and fiil up into GRB?.thanks

    • Angela says:

      Hi Elizer…..yes oily rags can be incinerated and the quanity is placed in the GRB….I am an enviromental officer for a cruise lines and we incinerate oily rags and medical waste (not sharps) as per company policy. Hope this helps you.

      • shahrukh says:

        hi… I just need to ask that if it is correct method of disposing of medical waste… if there is need to dispose medicines.. cud incineration be the way…???

      • montalbano says:

        for oow : give an example how to record the dump of cooking oil into sludge tank in the orb
        and wich garbage category for oil rags??

      • Dear montalbano, if you see one of the replies below by Sanjiv Mishra, one option in order to record dumping of cooking oil into the sludge tank is to record it under code I “Additional Operational Procedures and General Remarks”, although there are no clear instructions on how to record this transfer, one approach would be to record in the Garbage Record Book the quantity that will be damped in the sludge tank and subsequently record under code I the quantity to be dumped in the Oil Record Book. Additionally, if you go through and read through the comments of this post you will also notice that another approach is to store cooking oil separately, if this is possible. Oily rags fall under the category of “Operational Waste”.

  8. Juan S. Mata says:

    Garbage management Plan should be approved by the administration as per
    Vessel Garbage Management Plan revised of Marpol Annex V(Resolution MEPC.201 (62)

  9. Juan S. Mata says:

    Vessel Garbage Management Plan as per revised requirements of Marpol Annex V(Resolution MEPC.201 (62)

  10. Hi Angela, noted that Oily rags are being incinerated on your vessel. Were you recording this under Category C (Domestic Wastes) which defines Rags as under the Category or Category F (Operational Waste)?

  11. i just what to ask were can i see a written note or book that say plastic is prohited to burn and some information online that i can print and present .thanks

    • Plastic in general is not prohibited for incineration. On the other hand for certain types of plastic it is prohibited. More specifically as per MARPOL Annex V Regulation 16 item 6 the incineration of polyvinyl chlorides (PVCs) is prohibited, except in shipboard incinerators for which IMO Type Approval Certificates have been issued.

      Regarding shipboard incineration you can find more information in MEPC.219(63) paragraph 2.11 “Incineration”. Moreover, par. 2.11.6 of MEPC.219(63) states that “The incineration of garbage that contains a large amount of plastic involves very specific incinerator settings such as higher oxygen injection and higher temperatures (850 to 1,200°C). If these special conditions are not met, depending on the type of plastic
      and conditions of combustion, some toxic gases can be generated in the exhaust stream, including vaporized hydrochloric (HCl) and hydrocyanic (HCN) acids.”. So whether or not you can incinerate plastics depends on the incinerator installed onboard. For your reference some manufacturers clearly state that their incienrators can burn plastics e.g. and .

      It should be noted that incinerator ash may still be subject to local quarantine, sanitary or health requirements. Advice should be sought from local authorities regarding requirements that are in addition to MARPOL.

  12. Gokul rajaram says:


    – that you’ve been doing an amazing job in very clearly mentioning your reply with adequate references !

    simply an amazing job !


  13. R A Alvins says:

    So under the new regulations, it is OK to dump cooking oil into the sludge or waste oil tank & discharge to a shore facility, as long as the correct entries in the ORB & GRB are made?

    • Sanjiv Mishra says:

      It should be accepted to transfer cooking oil to sludge tanks (listed in the IOPP supplement, table 3.1). There are no clear-cut instructions on how to record such a transfer. Theoretically it should be recorded in both the Garbage Record Book (GRB) and the Oil Record Book (ORB) part I. I would consider to use code I in the ORB for such a transfer as cooking oil is an Annex V substance (i.e. not sludge to use code C11).

    • Andreas says:

      No. Cooking oil wasnt regulated.

    • Andreas says:

      No. Cat D can only be discharged ashore – according to the recording requirements…..-
      If “we” still dump it into the sluge tank, “we” will not get a reception certificate from any shore facility.
      Trouble with our beloved PSCOs is 100% sure.

  14. Tadesse kibret says:

    it needs a regular control from who concerning specially out side special area regarding disposal plastics & harmful sbstance

  15. Dear Sir: how can we catagorize the marine medical waste? Can we record it as “Domestic Waste” in new standard?

  16. Hakan Metin says:

    How can I write to Garbage Record Book, Batteries, Oily Rags and Medical garbage? Catagories doesn’t including Batteries, Oily Rags and Medical Garbage. Waiting answer.

  17. Properly filling the GRB?

    Would you write the same quantity at Estimated amount incinerated (m3) as INCINERATION (m3) ??? If your going to incinerate your waste. Below are the column provided in our Log. And the ruling noted below.

    The amount of garbage on board should be estimated m3 if possible separately according to category. The Garbage Record Book contains many references to estimated amount of garbage. It is recognized that the accuracy of estimating amounts of garbage is left to interpretation. Volume estimates will differ before and after processing. Some processing procedures may not allow for a useable estimate of volume, e.g. the continuous processing of food waste. Such factors should be taken into consideration when making and interpreting entries made in a record.

    TO SEA (m3)

    • Pavel says:

      Это понятно. Под какую категорию попадают батарейки, картриджи, просроченная медицина, люминесцентные лампы?

  18. The Shoddy Seafarer says:

    Can someone point me in the correct direction please, I am trying to find the actual regulation regarding the storage of Oily Rags at sea. I can only find in Code of safe working practice “such waste and rubbish should therefore be properly stored until it can be safely disposed of” I however am sure that somewhere it is mentioned that it must be store in a steel drum with steel lid or the use of another non-combustible material. Solas seems just as vague does anyone know the chapter?


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