Curbing plastic requires a lifecycle approach and a holistic view of the whole value chain. Wilhelmsen Ship Management has taken a strong stand against single-use plastic since 2019 and the journey still continues today.

We focused on reducing consumption and adopted a waste management approach that prevents waste from even being created, otherwise known as source reduction, and recycling. With heightened awareness, changes in attitude and careful planning, these approaches have brought us tangible results in reduction of single-use plastic consumption on board vessels. We were joined by like minded companies in the maritime supply chain and have taken joint action on this initiative.

The shipping industry abides to MARPOL Annex 5 - Garbage from Ships. These rules streamline the waste and garbage management on board marine vessels, including plastic. Any responsible ship manager should already be practicing proper handling of waste products to prevent marine pollution.


However, being compliant alone is not enough to create sustainable seas. We wanted to go further and act quicker.


We believe it is important to reduce single-use plastics at the source through mindful consumption.

Video on how we manage our waste onboard vessels.

Several initiatives executed in succession to lead the change of mindsets:


Building awareness towards reduction of single-use plastics


In 2019, we introduced the #makingadifference campaign to advocate a change of lifestyle to our seafarers and shore-based staff.


The aim was to build awareness through incremental changes in our plastic consumption which would lead to saving thousands of marine lives.


By making better choices like drinking from water dispensers, we can effectively reduce our reliance on single-use plastic drinking water bottles.

Visuals like videos were used to encourage everyone to make better choices.

Making lifestyle changes with  reusable products


We handed out reusable products to our seafarers and staff to encourage them to move away from using single-use plastics.


From 2020, we began distributing steel water bottles to seafarers on board our managed vessels. In order to avoid a large carbon footprint, we restricted distribution of the steel bottles to key locations where our vessels call most frequently.


It is imperative that we continue to hold discussions with stakeholders to upgrade the drinking water conditions on board.


At the end of 2020, 55% of seafarers on board our managed vessels had received their steel water bottles. In 2021, we continued to distribute the steel bottles to vessels.


On shore, we presented our staff with either collapsible silicone cups, metal straws or cutlery.

Images from seafarers who have received and made use of their personal steel water bottles.

Activities to promote environmental alertness


As a company wide initiative, we organized beach clean-ups activities during corporate events like teambuilding.
Such activities proved to be useful in creating environmental awareness amongst our staff and encouraging them to take action in curbing plastic pollution which is impacting our environment.

One of the beach cleaning organised efforts.

Responsible procurement


In May 2019, we decided to take a further step in reducing the usage of plastic on board through the maritime supply chain. We announced the enforcement of new criteria in our vendor selection process. Vendors supplying spare parts, stores and consumables were required to demonstrate their ability to reduce plastic usage on products delivered to us (such as wrapping).


We are committed to work with suppliers that have demonstrated compliance with our assessment process. We actively engage with suppliers to create a sustainable value chain for the maritime industry. The new criteria on reduction of plastic usage is included in our sustainability audits.


In 2020, 600 of our suppliers were screened using the sustainability criteria. Due to COVID-19 restrictions we were only able to carry out 8 audits.


We aim to influence the entire value chain towards a sustainable maritime trade. By increasing engagement with our suppliers and business partners we can impart our responsible stewardship values and business ethics.

Press release: Wilhelmsen Ship Management tightens vendors selection process to reduce plastic usage onboard

Influencing major industry players in the maritime supply chain


The sustainability of the ocean is a subject close to our heart but we cannot do this alone. Collectively we all need to work together to reduce plastic usage.


In 2019, Wilhelmsen Ship Management was among the first to organise a roundtable with like-minded individuals and companies to share opinions, best practices and initiatives towards the common goal of preventing and significantly reducing the use of plastics in the maritime industry.   


Representatives from class society, ship agency and chandlers, engine manufacturer, marine chemicals, lubricants and equipment were present and we discussed several key action plans.


Through these discussions, the participants gained insights on best practices on plastic reduction, and technologies for reusing plastics. Our goal was that these discussions would plant the seeds of change for many more initiatives in other organisations.

Collaborative efforts are needed to create sustainable links in the maritime supply chain to reduce plastic waste. This video was taken during our organised roundtable.

Measuring plastic footprint


Drawing from available data in 2020, we calculated the average number of plastic bottles consumed onboard per year per vessel. This was a staggering 9,968 500 ml bottles. Through #makingadifference, we reduced the consumption of single-use plastic bottles with 32% within our fleet at the end of 2020.


In 2021, we began a benchmarking exercise to reduce the volume of plastic bottles procured per vessel. These are management-driven approaches to a drive consistent message to all stakeholders.


Genuinely concerned for the future of our children

Plastic has another meaning. It also refers to being false or not genuine, but that's not us.
Wilhelmsen Ship Management is committed to conducting business with integrity and purpose. This genuine commitment has been ingrained into our employees and seafarers beyond working environments and into their

homes, where they will continuously instil and advocate the change of lifestyle to their families and friends.

Being mindful of the environment and conscious about waste is a good habit to nurture. Together as a community we can evaluate our actions, respect Mother Nature, and make better decisions for a sustainable future.

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