Environment and Safety
Irish Continental Group recognises that all forms of transport, including ships, have an unavoidable impact on the environment. Ships in particular generate CO2 emissions, sulphur emissions and the requirement for waste disposal as well as other impacts. The Group is committed to minimising such negative impacts in the following ways:
The volume of CO₂ emitted is directly proportional to fuel consumption. The Group seeks to minimise such emissions by reducing fuel consumption as much as possible consistent with the safe and efficient operation of the fleet. This is achieved through technical and operational initiatives. These technical initiatives are documented within each vessels Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan. In recent years initiatives have included various projects; moving to LED strip lighting; installing variable frequency drives to motors such as those fitted to air conditioning systems as well as limiting main engine power.
Delivery of new generation terminal equipment at our Dublin container terminal during 2017 will include electrically powered zero emissions mobile gantries, which will set the standard for future equipment purchases and further reduce emissions from our terminal operations. The ship to shore gantry cranes used in our container terminal operations at both Dublin and Belfast are already powered by electricity.
The quantity of sulphur emitted by the Group’s vessels depends on the volume and type of fuel consumed. The permissible sulphur content of fuel consumed was reduced in recent years to a maximum of 1.5%, compared with 3.5% previously. Since 2010, in certain circumstances, only fuel with a maximum sulphur content of 0.1% may be consumed whilst passenger vessels are in port. Under MARPOL* (Annex VI) as from 1 January 2015 this limit of 0.1% now applies to all vessels whilst operating within Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA’s). This affects the Group’s operations while vessels are at sea in the North Sea, and in the English Channel serving routes between Ireland and Continental Europe. In relation to the Irish Sea the next change in permissible sulphur content under MARPOL* is scheduled for 2020 when the limit is due to reduce from 1.5% to 0.5%.
Waste disposal / other
We continue to minimise the impact of waste disposal through consistent compliance with MARPOL* (73/78). We use an oil recovery system to recycle all waste oil from our ships. Our bulk purchasing reduces the number of deliveries and packaging, and we segregate all waste cardboard packaging for recycling. The painting of the underwater hulls of all our ferries is with tin-free, non-toxic paints to avoid the release of harmful agents into the sea. We also minimise to the best of our ability wave generation to minimise disturbance of coastal habitats while we strive to be at the forefront in promoting customer awareness of the marine environment. Energy Efficiency Awareness Training is undertaken for all crew to highlight obvious areas where they can contribute to power savings and power shower heads have been installed in a number of cabins within the fleet together with tap flow restrictors which has significantly reduced the fleet’s water consumption.
The greater use of electrically powered equipment at our container terminals, together with other noise suppression initiatives assists in reducing the noise levels from our operations in the immediate port environment.
Community and Wellness
Irish Continental Group continues to take an active interest in the communities within which it operates. Each separate business unit assists in local initiatives through sponsorship and organised events. We recognise the important role played by charities and community organisations within our communities and we are happy to help these organisations achieve their goals. During the year, Group staff took part in fundraising activities for the Temple Street Children’s University Hospital. The Group is also happy to support its employees with charitable endeavours of their own. We work with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group by reporting information on sightings to assist in the conservation and understanding of cetaceans in the Irish Sea.
The general health and wellbeing of employees and customers is of utmost importance to the Group. We participate in the tax incentivised ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme, which promotes healthy commuting whilst reducing pollution. There is an on-site gym facility at the Group head office, available to all staff.
During 2017, Irish Ferries introduced a variety of healthy food and drinks options on board its vessels. There are updated menus with a selection of healthy options marked with the heart symbol and for each of these items sold, a donation is made to the Irish Heart Foundation. We place a large emphasis on supporting our local economy through the use of fresh, locally sourced produce on-board our fleet. Our fruit and vegetables are supplied by a leading specialist catering supplier, working with superior growers and producers throughout Ireland. Our fish and seafood are locally sourced and certified as using sustainable and responsible fishing methods. There are a range of bespoke breads on-board provided by a Dublin artisan bakery, while a local vegetarian restaurant supplies our fleet with various soups and juices.