Sweden prepares to ban use of scrubbers

The Swedish government has decided to go ahead with introducing a scrubber ban within the country’s waters.

Illustration; Image by Wartsila

A proposal has been submitted to prohibit discharges from open-loop scrubbers into water within Swedish maritime territory from July 1, 2025.

Discharges from all scrubbers into water will be prohibited in Sweden from January 1, 2029, the Government of Sweden said in a statement.

“Reducing emissions into the air by moving pollution to the sea is not a sustainable solution. Therefore, a proposal is now being submitted to ban the scrubbers’ discharge into the water. Most Swedish shipowners have already chosen to run on fuel with such a low sulfur content that they stay within the emission requirements without scrubbing. Now we want it to apply to all ships within Swedish maritime territory,” Andreas Carlson, Infrastructure and Housing Minister, commented.

Within the EU, there is no uniform legislation that prohibits discharges from scrubbers but many countries and ports have already prohibited scrubber discharges into certain parts of national waters.

So far, there has been no national ban in Sweden but some Swedish ports have already banned the use of scrubbers.

The use of exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCSs) has increased since the requirements were tightened on the sulfur content that is permitted in the fuel. This means that sulfur emissions into the air have decreased, but that emissions into the water have increased.

Related Article

“Emissions from ship scrubbers are – even in very low concentrations – harmful to the marine environment. The use of scrubbers also increases total fuel consumption by around 2-3 percent, which also increases carbon dioxide emissions. As the government moves forwards with the proposal to ban emissions from scrubbers, an important step is taken both for a better marine environment and for the climate,” Romina Pourmokhtari, Climate and Environment Minister, said.

A research published last year by Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden found that water discharged from ships’ scrubbers, designed to clean exhaust gases, accounted for over 90% of the contaminants when assessing the contaminant load in four ports.

Another study from the abovementioned university found that discharge water from ships’ exhaust gas treatment systems is responsible for up to nine percent of certain emissions of carcinogenic and environmentally harmful substances in the Baltic Sea.