UPM commits to wastewater treatment to Baltic Sea Action Group

BSAG aims to make land-based discharges a permanent practice

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UPM has recently committed to Baltic Sea Action Group for diverting ship-generated wastewater discharge from sea to land. Photo: UPM
UPM has recently committed to Baltic Sea Action Group for diverting ship-generated wastewater discharge from sea to land. Photo: UPM

UPM is the first Finnish company, acting as a shipper and charterer, to discharge its ship-generated wastewater on land and utilize various circular economy solutions in wastewater treatment. The commitment has been published on the World Oceans Day to Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG). The new model will be implemented in the ports of Rauma, Hamina, Kotka and Pietarsaari, which are the four most important ports for UPM’s operations.

“Responsible waste management on maritime transport and the use of modern technology in treating ship-generated waste is an obvious strategic choice for UPM,” says Lauri Rikala, Director, Global Break Bulk Shipping at the company. “We have cooperated with Baltic Sea Action Group for over ten years and made several commitments. Therefore, combining our forces and expertise in this project was only natural.”

“As a major shipper and charterer, this commitment of UPM affects the operations of several shipping companies, ships and ports. The company will spur other maritime transport companies who want to promote sustainable shipping, circular economy and the well-being of the Baltic Sea,” says Elisa Mikkolainen, project director, Maritime Affairs at BSAG. “We aim to make land-based discharges a permanent practice, also for cargo ships. Now we are inviting other pioneering companies like UPM to join us. Together we can make a difference!”

UPM’s efforts on utilizing wastewaters through circular economy solutions

The commitment has been made for 2022-2026, and it will focus on promoting BSAG’s Ship Waste Action initiative (SWA). The initiative aims to establish a model whereby cargo ship effluents are discharged at the port, and their nutrients are recycled through circular economy solutions. For example, UPM is exploring opportunities to use recycled nutrients from ship-generated wastewater in its own wastewater treatment plants. Thus, the company contributes to its own 2030 target of using only recycled nutrients in its wastewater treatment plants.

Its commitment is a significant step forward in a situation where it is still legal to discharge wastewater from cargo ships into the sea. “Technically, discharging wastewater on land is not challenging, but it requires planning and coordination. Our goal is to implement this model for the ships we operate by ourselves and to engage our long-term shipping partners and individual freight service providers,” says Lauri Rikala.

To discharge wastewaters on land, UPM and Baltic Sea Action Group will explore the opportunities to discharge the cargo holding washing water on land for possible further reuse.

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