The use of unhealthy cleaning liquids on Transatlantic’s and Viking Supply Ships’ vessels has been reduced by over 90 %. The shipping company is now going to look over glues and paints. The project is being run by Annelie Rusth Jensen, who has worked with the issue for over five years.
When Annelie started at Transatlantic she made a list of the chemicals in the cleaning agents used on some of the ships. She found that there were many toxic and environmentally harmful products onboard and the ship often used different agents for the same purpose. An action plan was drawn up to reduce the number of suppliers, replace toxic products with ”softer” alternatives and arrange the same list of chemicals for all of the ships.
”Using the same products on all the ships is very important. Otherwise employees must read up on new products every time they change boat,” says Annelie.
Together with the suppliers and onboard personnel, it has been decided which products will be used and for what.
”For us, it has been very important to have the crews involved in this work. They know what they need and should not feel that this is something that we have invented in the office and are forcing on them.” The work with cleaning agents has led to new lists of products that are allowed to be purchased.
”In a few extreme cases, such as a major oil spill, it may be necessary to buy stronger agents that are not included on the list. Then you have to apply for using a particular product and we issue a temporary approval in writing,” says Annelie.
The company has also installed dosing devices for the washing machines onboard. It gave immediate results.
”Most ships have halved their consumption of washing powder, but one ship has reduced its use by 80 %. In addition to using less detergent, the crew does not have to handle powder, which they can breathe in as well as getting on their skin,” says Annelie.
Annelie has now gone on to work with glues. The first step of making an inventory is completed and she notes that there is a lot to do here, too.
”So far I have only scratched the surface, but I have already found one product that contains carcinogenic substances. I contacted the supplier, who had an equivalent adhesive that was not as harmful to health.”
Finding good substitute products is rarely a problem, says Annelie.
”The more we demand, the greater will be the supply. As a customer we have good opportunities to influence development.”
The spreading of information is a key part of the shipping company’s chemical work. Single sheets with a warning symbol and the protective equipment required for a given product have been produced. The information sheets are in A6 format and are placed next to the product they describe.
”I would have liked to see personnel reading through safety data sheets every time they use a product. But they are 8 to 12 pages long and I am quite sure they wouldn’t do it,” says Annelie.
The company has also produced A3 sheets for every department, which lists the most commonly used chemicals along with a brief description of properties and protection requirements.
”If they want to put them up, they do, but we do not force them to. We don’t work with orders, but with rewards and encouragement.”
Initially the work with chemicals meant a great deal of work for Annelie. But in a longer perspective, she is convinced that this will lead to a reduction in the total amount of work. In addition, the shipping company’s costs for chemicals have been reduced by 5 to 10 % each year since she started the scheme.
”There are fewer purchases and we do not have as many suppliers and products to keep track of. We also keep costs down by buying in larger quantities and consolidating the transport to ships. When it comes to detergent, the installation cost of the dosing devices was not more than about 8,000 kronor per machine, so the investment repaid itself quickly.”