Can maritime water solutions be sustainable?

Berry Mathew

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Can maritime water solutions be sustainable?

Whether it’s clean drinking water for seafarers or water for boilers and important cooling systems, maritime water solutions are a vital component in the efficient operation of every vessel in the maritime industry. However, as environmental sustainability and the move towards decarbonisation becomes increasingly important topics for the sector, many are questioning the steps the maritime industry must take and asking themselves, can maritime water solutions be sustainable?

Although it can be tricky to provide clean drinking water at sea, the provision of potable water to passengers and seafarers alike is essential. Marine water solutions, including water filtration and other water treatment services, have a number of advantages for the maritime industry. Perhaps most relevant, it contributes greatly to the physical and emotional wellbeing of crews at sea.

So what are maritime water solutions? And perhaps most important, can maritime water solutions be sustainable? The answer may lie in reusable water bottles and finding a sustainable alternative to water filtration.

What are maritime water solutions?

Maritime water solutions are the provision of water at sea. This includes potable water for drinking and showering. In the industry, most vessels can now generate their own water which makes the onboard filtration systems installed on the industry’s vessels incredibly important in taking care of seafarers and passengers alike. 

In the past, the process of evaporation was used to produce water at sea. This meant only saltwater required filtration. A port could also be used to load water onto the vessel. 

In this day and age, most larger vessels operating at sea produce their own water onboard. Reverse osmosis (RO) water producers, for instance, are becoming more and more common and are being placed on an increasing number of vessels. Most RO freshwater systems include pre and post-filters as well as treatment elements in addition to the RO membrane, ensuring a constant supply of fresh water for the crew and any passengers that may be present.

Why are maritime water solutions important?

Modern water filtration techniques and other marine water solutions provide the maritime industry with a number of benefits. The distribution of clean, fresh water to passengers and seafarers is one of the most notable, as it removes contaminants by eliminating harmful impurities from the water such as chlorine, disinfection by-products and even heavy metals like mercury, lead and arsenic. Perhaps most important, the process leaves behind the necessary minerals crews need to thrive like magnesium, fluoride, calcium and zinc. 

Modern marine water solutions are also more economical than more traditional processes, with quick returns on investment and various leasing options available to owners and operators alike. This is especially important when taking into account the price of providing plastic water bottles versus providing reusable items like steel water bottles.

Can maritime water solutions be sustainable?

In the past, the maritime industry has not traditionally been closely scrutinised in terms of environmental sustainability. However, the industry is a significant contributor to global carbon emissions with an annual contribution of 3% of the world’s total carbon emissions. As a result, the industry is under increasing pressure to embrace more sustainable methods. This is where maritime water solutions could be one such step.

Modern marine water solutions offer a wider range of sustainable options. For example, reusable bottles and containers are better for the environment and can increase customer trust more than single-use plastic alternatives.

As a result, many owners and operators are turning to more environmentally friendly water treatment methods both at sea and onshore. For example, rather than using single-use plastic, many owners and operators are opting to give their crews reusable containers and steel water bottles instead. By reducing plastic waste in this way, the sector can also do away with the need for barges to lift pallets packed with single-use plastic goods. This lessens the industry’s carbon footprint and offers more trustworthy, cost-effective alternatives to outdated methods.

Reusable containers can, of course, present issues as well. Many reusable containers and bottles are created using carbon fuels, which are just as resource-intensive as plastic and are comparable to the use of single-use plastic products. Additionally, toxins may seep into the water, endangering the physical health of both seafarers and passengers. Therefore, the use of stainless steel water bottles, which are far more environmentally beneficial than other modern materials, maybe the solution. 

Final thoughts

So can maritime water solutions be sustainable? The answer is a resounding yes.

The maritime sector relies heavily on water, both to transport goods via the ocean and ensure the physical and emotional wellbeing of seafarers with potable water. As a result, the infrastructure that depends on clean water, as well as the water itself, must be properly cleaned if operations at sea are to be continued safely. This holds true for water that is fit to drink for mariners, water used for washing and showering, and water used in boilers and cooling systems.

The provision of passengers and seafarers with clean, fresh water is vital – however, it needs to be provided in an environmentally sustainable way to lessen the industry’s carbon footprint. As a result, modern water filtration methods and other marine water solutions are very beneficial to the maritime industry as a result of being more sustainable than traditional methods such as the use of single-use plastic.

In conclusion, implementing more environmentally sustainable processes day to day presents an opportunity for collaboration across the maritime industry’s owners and operators. On a global level, the sector must work together to ultimately resolve their reliance on fossil fuels and single-use plastics. As a result, maritime water solutions may be the first step taken to a greener future.

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