- CMA CGM will not be accepting "plastic waste" onboard any of CMA CGM Group's vessels starting April 15, according to a customer notice.
- The carrier made the initial announcement on its decision to ban plastic waste in February during the One Ocean Summit. The company had stated this "landmark decision" would become effective June 1.
- The ban on transporting plastic waste on its ships "will prevent this type of waste from being exported to destinations where sorting, recycling or recovery cannot be assured," according to the February statement.
Scrutiny over plastic waste is leading ocean carriers to make changes to the commodities they export.
The decision by CMA CGM, one of the top ocean carriers in the world, to ban it onboard their ships comes at a time when sustainability and environment-friendly practices are in high demand from customers and regulators.
U.S. plastic scrap exports fell by 11% in 2021 with 557 million kilograms of plastic scrap exported compared to 629 million kilograms in 2020, according to U.S. export data.
US plastic scrap exports have declined over 5 years
Canada is one of the top export destinations for plastic scrap from the United States. China was once the leading importer of plastic scrap from the U.S., but the country's scrap ban placed a dent on activity.
Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd and MSC announced they would stop imports of plastic scraps and other solid waste to China and Hong Kong in 2020. CMA CGM went a step further by saying it would no longer carry plastic scrap on any of its ships worldwide.
CMA CGM's ban on plastic scrap won't be an easy venture. The material is often labeled using HS code 3915 but that doesn't stop discrepancies in how shipments are labeled. To get around regulatory procedures when shipping plastic scrap, a shipper could use HS code 3920 which labels a product as plastic sheets instead of plastic scrap, according to Resource Recycling. Such false coding would allow the banned commodity to be shipped.
In the meantime, the United Nations Environment Assembly is working on tackling global plastic waste on an international level. A resolution from the UNEA, released last month, sets the goal to present a detailed treaty by the end of 2024 to further regulate international trade in plastics.