Zero Solid Waste

Marine debris has always been considered a blight on visual aesthetics of the ocean, however,recent attention has focused on the dangers to marine life from debris especially in light of the discovery of vast garbage patches present in gyres. Most of the debris comes from shore-based sources such as storm water runoff, however ocean-going vessels can contribute to marine debris if solid waste is thrown overboard. In March 1993, Matson began a pilot program with the Center for Marine Conservation (now the Ocean Conservancy) to address marine debris generated from ocean-going vessels. Dedicated “greentainers” were placed on each vessel in the Matson fleet. All solid waste, except food scraps, is placed in this container and prohibited from being discharged overboard. The greentainer is unloaded at a shoreside facility and the contents sent to recycling, waste-to-energy, or other acceptable disposal facilities. Matson is still the only container vessel company that has a zero discharge policy and our efforts were recognized by the National Research Council of the National Academies in their publication Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century.