by CEO and Port Director Rodger Rees

Let’s talk trash. Galveston Wharves is implementing a number of waste reduction initiatives as part of our voluntary Green Marine environmental certification. Implementing recycling programs in our facilities, using sustainable paper products and limiting the use of plastic bottles are some of the steps we’ll be taking.

We’re seeking Green Marine certification as part of a long-term commitment to continuous improvement in our environmental performance.

Once certified, we expect to be only the second Texas port participating in the program for the North American marine industry, including shipowners, ports, terminals and shipyards based in Canada and the United States. 

The transparent, five-step certification process includes self-evaluation based on Green Marine criteria, external verification, publication of results, continuous improvement and, finally, certification.

For our certification, we’re aiming to benchmark our environmental performance in waste management and complete the self-evaluation guide by the end of 2020. Results will be substantiated by an accredited external verifier in spring 2021, after which, the Galveston Wharves expects to receive its certification. We also commit to comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations.

Waste management is one of eight areas of performance for ports in the Green Marine program. They include community impacts, underwater noise, greenhouse gases and others. Once we’re certified, criteria in these performance areas will guide our environmental policies and practices moving forward.

Reduce, Recycle, and Protect

The Waste Management objective is to reduce waste in our administrative facilities and site operations. To be Green Marine-certified, the port must implement the majority of about a dozen actions that include the following:

• Install recycling bins in offices and facilities, including for used batteries, cartridges and fluorescent light bulbs

• Install waste disposal signage on port property

• Educate staff on waste management procedures, including reduce, reuse, recycle, and proper handling and disposing of hazardous waste

• Encourage the use of reusable, recyclable and compostable supplies

• Encourage tenants, users and contractors to minimize waste and to recycle

• Adopt an environmentally preferable purchasing policy that encourages sustainable purchasing practices

Just the Beginning

Certification is just the beginning. Participating in Green Marine will help us identify and implement best practices, manage our environmental programs, measure our progress and strive for continuous improvement. Sharing new technologies and best practices with other Green Marine members is another benefit that we’ll tap into.

Green Marine also encourages collaboration with governments, port tenants and citizen groups in implementing action plans and green initiatives.

We’re collaborating with business and community partners, including the Galveston Bay Foundation and Artist Boat. Most recently, port employee volunteers picked up trash and marine debris on a port-owned tract on Pelican Island. 

The port has already implemented an environmental policy to establish the basic principles and general objectives that will support our environmental practices. Galveston Wharves also gives preference in purchasing products made of recycled materials and considers vendor environmental practices in the selection process, as outlined in our Purchasing Policy.

Currently, the port is working on its Operations Manual to extend our commitments to our customers, employees, tenants, operators, users and to the community in which we operate.

I’m proud of the leadership and passion for environmental initiatives that Galveston Wharves employees have shown. Follow the Port of Galveston through social media and in the news as we launch new green programs. Visit www.green-marine.org to learn more about that program.