Where Are Open-Loop Scrubbers Banned?

Banning Open Loop Scrubber

All over the world, more environmental restrictions are adopted to secure a sustainable future and comply with the UN SDGs. This is also seen within the shipping industry as several countries have banned the discharge of wash water from open-loop scrubbers. Let us dive into which countries have adopted a ban.

An open-loop scrubber discharges sulfuric scrubber wash water containing gaseous and particulate emissions removed from the exhaust gases into the sea. More ports adopt stricter environmental regulations to fight ocean acidification, making it difficult for vessels to operate with an open-loop scrubber. As of today, more than 120 ports worldwide have banned open-loop scrubber discharge. And in November 2020, the European Parliament’s environmental committee voted to out-phase and ban open-loop scrubbers. Bans mainly apply in high-traffic areas, such as ports and canals. According to Safety4Sea, it is prohibited to discharge scrubber wash water or have an open-loop scrubber in many ports and territorial waters, including:


  • Bahrain (within port limits)
  • Belgium (ports and inland waters)
  • Bermuda (territorial waters)
  • China (territorial waters)
  • Egypt (Suez Canal)
  • France (specific ports)
  • Germany (inland waters and ports bordering inland waters)
  • Gibraltar (local waters)
  • Ireland (within the ports of Cork, Dublin, and Waterford)
  • Lithuania (port waters)
  • Malaysia (territorial waters)
  • Norway (heritage fjords)
  • Pakistan (within port limits)
  • Panama (the Panama Canal)
  • Portugal (port waters)
  • Scotland (within the ports of Forth and Tay)
  • Singapore (within port limits)
  • Spain (within the port of Algeciras)
  • Sweden (within the port of Brofjorden)
  • UAE (within Fujairah and Abu Dhabi port limits)
  • USA (within Connecticut port waters and Californian waters)
  • And many more

Continuously Development in Restrictions

These are only some of the ports and territorial waters. The restrictions continue to develop rapidly. Soon, many more global ports are expected to join the ban on open-loop scrubber discharge to protect sensitive waters from ocean acidification and embark on a sustainable future.  

If a vessel with an open-loop scrubber wants to enter some of the listed areas, it will have to convert to a hybrid scrubber or a closed-loop scrubber. Alternatively, it can also switch to a more expensive compliant fuel containing less sulfur.

Although local regulations are a great start, it is just the beginning. Therefore, it is also expected that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will sanction a new work plan at its next Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), discussing environmental issues under IMO’s remit. This new work plan aligns with the regulations and bans for open-loop scrubber wash water discharges internationally. The 76th MEPC session is to be held in June 2021.

By installing or converting to a closed-loop scrubber, you take an active part in reducing pollution for a better world. Likewise, you are prepared for future regulations, which guarantees that you can continue your operation without interruptions.

How do I comply with the IMO 2020 sulfur cap?
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