Industry Issues

Recycling, Reuse and Waste Management

Recycling of Containers

Millions of containers are used throughout the global supply chain and they are used and reused countless times. Since containers are structurally stable, mobile and watertight, containers are often used for temporary storage as well as other uses. Mostly made of steel or aluminum, old containers can be repaired and refurbished or fully recycled. It is now possible to recycle 98% of most containers. Containers that are not recycled to make new steel products are often refurbished for use as storage units, or even donated for use as temporary schools or offices in remote locations.

Ship Scrapping

International standards for the dismantling and recycling of ships are contained in the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. Adopted in May 2009, the Convention will enter into force 24 months after 15 governments representing 40% of the world's merchant shipping gross tonnage have ratified the agreement. To learn more, visit and select Marine Environment, Ship Recycling.

Marine Debris

Marine debris is a serious and growing problem as marine debris constitutes a serious threat for many marine species as a result of ingestion and entanglement. Marine debris is generated by a variety of sources, most of which are land-based, but due to rainfall and drainage patterns, finds its way to the marine environment. Other sources include discarded fishing gear and ship generated debris.

International standards for the discharge and disposal of garbage and other marine debris generated by ships are stipulated under Annex V of MARPOL. The World Shipping Council is participating in efforts at the International Maritime Organization to review current requirements under MARPOL Annex V and to develop amendments as appropriate to strengthen the international rules governing the management of ship generated waste. To learn more, visit and select Marine Environment, Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter.