BIMCO has launched a campaign to raise awareness and help support the removal of single-use plastic bottles from ships.

"Even if plastics on board ships are sorted, managed, and discharged to shore in a proper way, mismanagement of waste on land means it can still reach the ocean. With up to 1.75 billion plastic bottles a year being used on board ships, BIMCO believes removing unnecessary plastics is the industry's best option to help remove a source that may end up reaching the ocean," says a release from BIMCO.

As a first step, BIMCO has partnered with Ocean Bottle on co-branded reusable bottles, which symbolise the change needed within the shipping industry - ships moving from single-use plastic bottles to sustainable alternatives such as onboard water supplies or larger dispensers.

"We've learnt from members who have successfully implemented initiatives to remove single-use plastic bottles from their ships that providing crew with a reusable bottle, alongside other actions, can make a big difference," says Bev Mackenzie, Head of Intergovernmental Engagement, BIMCO. "Over half of the companies that recently completed a BIMCO survey are already providing such bottles."

BIMCO estimates that an onboard system is a quarter of the cost of providing water in single-use plastic bottles and can pay for itself in just one year. "In addition, BIMCO evidence suggests that refills can save around 2,355 kg of CO2 emissions per ship per year. Refilling a bottle from a modern system also supports crew welfare as today's alternatives provide good quality, safe, and tasty drinking water."

Mackenzie adds: "Whilst solutions exist, we still have work to do and will be working with our members to support them in selecting onboard systems and bottles to best suit their needs. What we do know is that our industry's small steps in phasing out single-use plastic bottles could have a big impact."

Every bottle bought by BIMCO will fund the collection of 11.4 kg (over 1,000 single-use plastic bottles in weight) of ocean plastic from the world's most polluted waterways, the release said.

"Plastic is collected by locals from some of the worst affected coastal communities such as the Philippines, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, India, and Indonesia, who then exchange the plastic for money or receive digital credit to swap for tuition, tech goods, healthcare, and micro-finance. This infrastructure is made possible with help from partners Plastic Bank, Plastics for Change and rePurpose who set up collection sites and ensure transactions to collectors are secure through traceable technology."

The BIMCO/Ocean Bottle branded bottles will be distributed among key stakeholders, leaders, and volunteers over the months to spread the campaign message, the release said.

Ocean Bottle has collected six million kilograms of plastic till now, and the goal is to prevent seven billion plastic bottles from entering the ocean by 2025.

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