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Ecoslops: The sustainability imperative

Ecoslops, a French company producing recycled marine fuels from oil residues, is working to promote sustainable slops disposal solutions to the shipping industry with its technology, which transforms oil residues from slops and sludge into new fuels and light bitumen.

Vincent Favier, CEO of Ecoslops, reckons currently sustainable slops disposal remains a challenge but progress has been made.
Favier sees a significant environmental drive in the shipping industry these years, but he finds this is largely focused around greenhouse gas emissions reduction and the 2020 global sulphur cap as well as the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention.

“The demand to improve sustainability within shipping is seen as imperative to secure a viable and profitable future for the industry,” says Favier.

However, while developments in regulation are positive, Favier reckons one of the key challenges is their enforcement.
For example, Favier says, in relation to slops, while there is stringent MARPOL legislation and EU legislation governing the correct disposal of slops and oily waste, the media headlines from the last couple of years demonstrate that a number of shipowners and operators are still dumping their slops illegally at sea. In fact, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has estimated that at least 3,000 incidents occur each year in which oily waste is deliberately discharged into European waters alone.

Favier believes sustainable slops disposal is clearly still a huge issue to be tackled by the shipping industry.

“The recent interest and development in the uptake of our technology shows that progress is being made, however, there needs to be continued progress in building awareness of the issue and in demonstrating that there are sustainable and commercially beneficial solutions out there,” Favier says.

Favier reckons the main barrier to the uptake of eco-friendly or clean technologies in tough economic times is a continued lack of liquidity and the ability to invest, plus the shipping industry is traditionally slow to embrace innovation and change, and there is also a level of scepticism surrounding the environmental, financial or operational return on investments that new technologies can provide.

However, he believes things are changing as the external pressure on the shipping industry to improve its sustainability increases, companies are beginning to recognise the benefits of being more sustainable in terms of increasing their competitive advantage and brand equity, as well as generating operational and environmental efficiencies.

“This has been a key factor for Ecoslops, as ports, shipowners, and slops collectors are realising the benefits of a sustainable solution for slops disposal,” Favier says.

Talking about the benefits of sustainable slops disposal solutions, Favier reckons ports could increases in-port efficiencies and improve their environmental profile and reputation, while shipowners could have a channel to sustainably dispose of their waste at the right cost and they also benefit from a lift in their sustainability profile, as they can reuse the fuel produced by the industrial unit. Finally, traditional slops collectors benefit, because Ecoslops purchases the slops at a fair price, and also alleviates the pressure on storage capacity.

According to Favier, the company’s first micro-refinery, which commenced industrial production in 2015 in the Port of Sinès in Portugal, successfully regenerates 98% of waste products into fuel oil, which is ready to be sold back into the supply chain. The facility is expected to treat 25,000 tons of slops this year.

The company is also in the process of building a slops processing plant in Le Mede, Marseille under a cooperation deal with Total.
Ecoslops aims to sign deals for two new industrial units by the end of this year.

“The industry needs to continue to raise awareness of the sustainable solutions for slops disposal that are available, to ensure that progress continues to be made,” Favier concludes.

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