Port of Rotterdam adopts Green Award verification for new EU shipping sustainability incentives


Rotterdam, 22 February 2024 – The Port of Rotterdam cements its position as a leader in sustainable shipping by becoming the first EU port to utilise Green Award Foundation’s specialised Ship Waste module programme to verify ships meeting new environmental performance criteria enacted this year.

Recent EU regulations require member state ports to grant discounts on waste fees to ships that can demonstrate reduced waste volumes and sustainable management practices.

Drawing on over 30 years of experience auditing and incentivising responsible shipping, Green Award launched a tailored module aligned with EU sustainability benchmarks. Independent verification through Green Award allows ships meeting these exacting new voluntary standards to benefit from waste fee discounts up to 32% when calling at accredited ports.

Commenting on this precedent, Jan Fransen, Executive Director at Green Award Foundation said:

We commend the Port of Rotterdam on being the first port to take advantage of Green Award Foundation’s specialised certification programme.

Over one-third of ships now eligible for Rotterdam’s waste fee discount under these EU sustainability criteria actively chose to undertake Green Award’s rigorous certification process in advance of regulations taking force this year. Their foresight and voluntary steps to implement responsible waste practices consistent with Green Award standards demonstrates that financial incentives catalyse market-driven acceleration beyond basic compliance.

To date, 38 ships have successfully completed evaluations by Green Award auditors and qualified for discounted waste fees at the Port of Rotterdam. The assessed vessels are currently all Green Award certified ships, but the Ship Waste module is also open to non-certified ships. With strict sustainability requirements now tied to financial benefits, Green Award verification provides a clear pathway for ships to maximise savings while accelerating the spread of environmentally sound waste management practices across the industry.

Our expanded certification scheme allows leading ports like Rotterdam to reward vessel operators going above and beyond baseline regulations,” Fransen explained. “By harnessing independent verification tools instead of administrative burdens, these incentives create a market-driven race to the top.

Other major European ports are currently working to integrate The Green Award’s verification services for determining ships that meet the EU waste discount criteria.

EU Ship Waste Fee Regulation Context

New European Union (EU) regulations enacted by the European Parliament and EU Commission as “Directive (EU) 2019/883” have now entered into force. This requires all EU member state ports and municipalities that charge ships waste fees to implement a system of discounts or incentives tied to strict environmental sustainability criteria and third-party verification of performance. The aim is to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy model within the maritime shipping industry.

Specifically, EU “Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/91” sets outs the exact criteria ships must meet across waste streams and overall sustainable management practices to qualify for waste fee reductions under Directive 2019/883. Independent auditing bodies like Green Award Foundation, with relevant expertise incentivising responsible shipping, provide verification services to ports for determining ships that achieve compliance.

The waste fee discounts start from 15% but can amount to 32% for ships scoring highest, creating financial incentives for operators to pursue sustainability certification and adopt best practices going beyond baseline regulatory requirements. While the regulations mandate discounts in principle, use of established voluntary incentive programs like Green Award for verification simplifies implementation for ports and ships compared to administrative reporting alternatives.

Green Award Foundation

For over 30 years, Green Award Foundation has been dedicated to promoting sustainable and safe shipping. It works with seagoing ship operators, inland navigation operators, ports, governments, suppliers and service providers on a non-profit basis. Green Award’s programme includes standard setting, audit/inspections, certification and rewards. Over 195 parties provide financial incentives / discounts to ships with a Green Award certificate. The Foundation started in 1994 for seagoing vessels and in 2011 opened to inland shipping. The organisation is governed by an independent board of respected industry professionals. Its operations align with 13 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and support Environmental, Societal and Governance policies on around 60 shipping related topics globally.

In addition to its global certification program covering environmental, safety, and quality management facets of ship operations, Green Award has extensive expertise specifically in sustainable ship waste handling having integrated these concerns from the outset of its founding. The organisation worked closely with the EU Commission over 2020-2021 providing extensive input during development of the new EU regulatory framework mandating waste fee discounts for sustainable ships under Directive 2019/883 and its 2022 implementing act defining required criteria.

Given alignment of Green Award’s existing certification criteria with stipulations in EU Regulation 2022/91, as well as decades of experience incentivising and verifying responsible ship waste management practices, Green Award was approved as an authorised independent auditor for ports needing to identify and report qualifying ships under the new EU waste discount schemes entering into force for 2024.


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