IMO has recognized that provision of reception facilities is crucial for effective MARPOL implementation, and the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has strongly encouraged Member States, particularly those Parties to MARPOL as port States, to fulfil their treaty obligations on providing adequate reception facilities.
In March 2006, MEPC 54 emphasized the importance of adequate reception facilities in the chain of implementation of MARPOL, and stated that the policy of "zero tolerance of illegal discharges from ships" could only be effectively enforced when there were adequate reception facilities in ports. Therefore the Committee urged all Parties to MARPOL, particularly port States, to fulfil their treaty obligations to provide reception facilities for wastes generated during the normal operation of ships. The Committee also agreed to develop a port reception facility database (PRFD) as a module of the IMO Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) . The PRFD was designed to allow Member States to update the Database via a log-in password, and to allow the public to access all the information in the Database on a view-only basis. The Database went live to the public on 1 March 2006.
Action Plan to tackle the inadequacy of port reception facilities
In October 2006, MEPC 55 approved an Action Plan to tackle the alleged inadequacy of port reception facilities - seen as a major hurdle to overcome in order to achieve full compliance with MARPOL. The Plan was developed by the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) in order to contribute to the effective implementation of MARPOL and to promote quality and environmental consciousness among administrations and shipping.
The Plan contained work items aimed at improving the provision and use of adequate port reception facilities, including work items relating to reporting requirements; provision of information on port reception facilities; identification of any technical problems encountered during the transfer of waste between ship and shore and the standardization of garbage segregation requirements and containment identification; review of the type and amount of wastes generated on board and the type and capacity of port reception facilities; revision of the IMO Comprehensive Manual on Port Reception Facilities; and development of a guide to good practice on port reception facility providers and users. With regard to regional arrangements, in March 2012, MEPC 63 adopted, by resolution MEPC.216(63),the amendments to MARPOL Annex V, which provides that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) may satisfy the relevant requirements of reception facilities through regional arrangements when, because of those States’ unique circumstances, such arrangements are the only practical means to satisfy these requirements.
As part of the work on the Action Plan a standard Advance Notification Form was developed to enhance the smooth implementation and uniform application of this requirement, thus minimizing the risk of a ship incurring delay. Also, a standard Waste Delivery Notification form was developed to provide uniformity of records throughout the world.
Also, under its work on the Action Plan, FSI developed the Guide of good practice on port reception facility providers and users, which provides guidance and easy reference to good practices related to the use and provision of port reception facilities as well as a list of applicable regulations and guidelines.
In March 2018, MEPC adopted the MEPC.1/Circ.834/Rev.1 Revised Consolidated Guidance for port reception facility providers and users, which consolidates in a single document the Guide to good practice for port reception facility providers and users (MEPC.1/Circ.671/Rev.1) and four other circulars related to port reception facilities (MEPC.1/Circ.469/Rev.2, MEPC.1/Circ.644/Rev.1, MEPC.1/Circ.645/Rev.1 and MEPC.1/Circ.470/Rev.1).