A sustainable and socially responsible business model becomes more important year by year. Operating in ecologically sensitive areas, the objective of Finnlines’ safety and environmental policy is to provide safe, top-quality services while making efforts to minimise the environmental impacts in every aspect of operations. During the past few years Finnlines’ environmental programme has included the installation of exhaust gas scrubbers, investments in propulsion and reblading, and silicone anti-fouling. In 2017, Finnlines continued to invest in energy efficiency having decided to lengthen four ro-ro vessels. The capacity increase, which is around 30 per cent, will decrease the energy consumption per transported unit compared to the original vessel.

Environmental Certification

Finnlines’ environmental work focuses on vessels as they have a substantial effect on the environment. A certified environmental system under the ISO 14001 Code provides a tool to monitor and measure the impact of all environment-related operations and services. The system will also guarantee that the environmental performance unconditionally complies with relevant legislation and regulations.


In environmental and safety matters, Finnlines’ most important stakeholders are the flag, port and host state administration, owners, customers, port operators and contractors, as well as the inhabitants of harbour and fairway areas. Finnlines is represented at the technical, safety and environmental committees under the Swedish and Finnish Shipowners’ Associations.


The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) manages international legislation on safety and environmental matters. The MARPOL 73/78 Convention contains regulations on the disposal of waste and sewage into the sea, and on the prevention of air emissions. The SOLAS Convention regulates maritime safety and security matters, including ship construction, life-saving arrangements and navigation. The Company’s port operations comply with national legislation.

Energy Consumption and Atmosphere Emissions

Finnlines operates mainly in the Emission Control Areas, i.e. the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, where the sulphur content limit for ship fuel oil is 0.10 per cent in accordance with the MARPOL Convention. The global sulphur fuel limit continues to be 3.5 per cent, but it will decrease to 0.5 per cent in 2020.

To comply with the MARPOL Convention Finnlines has fitted a total of 20 ships with exhaust gas scrubbers. Ships which are not equipped with scrubbers run on ultra-low sulphur fuel oil.

Since microorganisms, plants and algae tend to accumulate on submerged structures, increasing fuel consumption and air emissions, the bottom is brushed and cleaned at regular intervals. Anti-fouling is normally not used as Finnlines ships operate in ice conditions. On two ro-ro passenger ships, which operate in the Southern Baltic, the latest generation of silicone hull paints has been applied, which has generated substantial fuel savings.

To reduce the carbon footprint from shipping and to create a benchmark system in Europe, the EU regulation on the monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2-emissions will become fully effective in 2018. Ship owners and operators will be required to report on fuel consumption for vessels larger than 5,000 GT. Another regulation to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from shipping has been adopted by the IMO. The Global Data Collection System is part of the MARPOL Convention and the first monitoring period will start in 2019.

The North Sea and the Baltic will constitute a NOx Emission Control Area (NECA) starting 1 January 2021. The NOx limit applies to all vessels built after 2021. Ships’ NOx emissions will reduce by 80 per cent compared with the present level.

In 2017, Finnlines’ vessel traffic consumed 324,743 tons of heavy fuel oil and diesel oil, representing an increase of around 4.5 per cent compared with 2016. The increase is due to growing cargo volumes and distances sailed.

Waste and Sewage

Efforts have been made to minimise the amount of waste that is deposited in landfills. The main recyclable waste types generated on board include energy waste, bio waste, glass, paper, cardboard, wood, and metal. Hazardous waste, including oil waste, oily filters, paint, and electronic scrap, is separated and taken to a designated container in the port.

MARPOL contains restrictions concerning black water, i.e. toilet water. Finnlines’ ro-pax vessels land black water to onshore municipal sewage systems whenever they are accessible. Tank vehicles are used where reception facilities are not provided. There are no restrictions on the discharge of grey water, i.e. water from kitchens and showers, but Finnlines ro-pax vessels pumps grey water to the shore-based sewage systems. Cargo ships are equipped with sewage treatment plants.

Ballast Water Management

Ballast water is used to trim and stabilise ships. However, ballast water may carry harmful aquatic species and out-compete native species, disrupting fragile marine ecosystems. The IMO Ballast Water Management Convention was introduced as early as 2004, but it did not enter into force until 8 September 2017. Exchange of ballast water has been mandatory after the entry-into-force date with the exception of the Baltic Sea, which does not meet the requirement of distance from shore or depth of water. Ships must be fitted with treatment equipment during a transitional period, however no later than 8 September 2024. Finnlines has investigated different technologies as low salinity, ice and high turbidity create extra challenges for the equipment in the Baltic Sea.

Other Environmental Aspects

Oily waste water, ‘bilge water’, is generated in engine rooms. Bilge water is separated in separators and the remaining sludge is always taken ashore. The limit for the oil content of water that may be discharged into the sea is 15 ppm but many of our ships have more efficient separators. Some bilge water is also pumped ashore.

Environmental Aspects in Port Operations

Being aware of their environmental impacts and responsibilities, Finnsteve companies follow the principles of sustainable development. The focus is on enhancing energy savings and on reducing air emissions and waste generation in processes, in storage operations and maintenance of machines and properties. Finnsteve companies hold a valid ISO 14 001 environmental certificate and an ISO 9001 quality certificate.

In 2017, the fuel consumption of the port operations totalled some 970 tons, which includes the operations in Helsinki, Turku and Naantali, an increase of nearly 20 per cent compared with 2016.

Finnlines' Environmental policy
Finnlines ISO 14001 certificate