The majority of ship owners prefer to be able to pump the sludge from ship to shore. The other alternative is to truck/lift it from the ship.
But are ports ready to receive the scrubber sludge? Those with the most experience in this regard are the ship owners themselves. It is not until you actually have a substance you want to discharge to shore that it becomes possible to get a “proper” answer from the ports.
Ports are obliged to provide services for the reception of scrubber sludge as per MARPOL regulation 17. If they do not have the facilities in place, they have to inform IMO and stakeholders of this through the GISIS website.
Often a ship must initiate the contact with a treatment facility and will be invoiced directly by this facility. If that is the case, it is worthwhile investigating whether it is cheaper to deliver a liquid sludge or a solid sludge for treatment. Because a liquid sludge has a high concentration of salts and in some cases also metal, some treatment facilities will not be able to discharge the clean water to the municipal sewage systems after the water cleaning process, as they may be required to do. This makes the water cleaning process much more expensive than a combustion treatment process, which is relevant for a solid sludge. A liquid sludge can also be combusted, of course. However, since the ship is charged by weight/volume, it might be cheaper to deliver approximately half the amount of sludge in a solid form.
In Europe, the handling of waste is regulated by EU directives and decisions. When making first contact with waste treatment facilities, it will help them to assess what they are dealing with if the sludge is tagged with a waste code according to the EU waste framework. Through negotiations with relevant stakeholders (EMSA, EU Commission, treatment facilities and scrubber suppliers) it has been agreed to designate scrubber sludge with the waste code 10 01 18*. Translated, this code means: Waste from thermal process – wastes from gas cleaning containing hazardous substances. Only waste treatment facilities certified to handle this waste code can accept the waste for treatment.