The dirty, polluting “scrubbers” are back at it again…

April 10, 2023
Public Relations

The dirty, polluting “scrubbers” are back at it again…

As everyone should be aware, the use of open loop scrubbers is a major loophole in the legislation and many so called “green” ship owners are mercilessly exploiting it. Remember, the name scrubber is deceptive. Any pollution  an open-loop scrubber “scrubs' from" a ship’s exhaust is dumped directly into the ocean. In doing so, open loop scrubbers infuse the ocean with millions of tons of acidic washwater. The intention of the 2020 sulfur cap was to move towards decarbonization, but the scrubber loophole merely allows ship owners to appear green while being anything but “i.e. green washing”. Really, all scrubber usage should be put to an end.  


Unfortunately, this has yet to materialize and now there are some concerning trends emerging in the dirty scrubber industry. A new report by BIMCO sheds light on this worrying development. While all scrubber retrofits are seeing a drastic decline, it looks like dirty/polluting scrubbers are being installed in new builds at an alarming rate. According to the report, 17% of dry bulk, container and tanker ships on order are expected to have dirty/polluting scrubbers installed. Even more troubling is the deadweight capacity of these dirty scrubber ships. BIMCO’s analysis shows that the average deadweight capacity of a scrubber-equipped ship is 140,845 tons. That is a far cry from the average deadweight of 51,743 tons for ships that don’t have scrubbers (i.e. the good owners that are actually abiding by the law, instead of those scrubber owners looking for the loophole that allows pollution). Sadly, this means that the world’s largest ships with the world’s largest fuel requirements are continuing to utilize heavy sulfur fuel oil instead of greener alternatives (as is the intent of the rule). It also means that these ships are polluting the oceans with toxic scrubber washwater in unimaginable quantities.


Truth be told, there are millions of reasons to explain this shift in the dirty/polluting scrubber market and they are all sitting at the bank. Financially, it no longer makes sense for ship owners to retrofit these dirty/polluting scrubbers. Lengthy installations, costly repairs and lower-than-expected very low sulfur fuel oil premiums have all discouraged ship owners from making investments in scrubbers. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for new builds, especially those with high fuel consumption and that is the scariest part. The most dangerous and damaging place a dirty/polluting scrubber could be used is where they are all ending up!  


Case in point, container shipping line, MSC, took delivery of the world’s largest box ship just last month. No surprise, MSC Irina is fitted with a dirty/ocean polluting scrubber. She is just one in a series of four vessels being made for MSC. All are equipped with the same terrible and irresponsible hybrid scrubbers. Group president, Diego Aponte (, noted that the biggest savings on these new vessels will come from cheaper fuel costs. It’s a similar story for Eagle Bulk. In a recent earning’s call, CEO, Gary Vogel (, bragged about his scrubber-fitted fleet. Since September, Eagle Bulk has acquired four Ultramaxes, three of which have scrubbers. Meanwhile, Star Bulk director, Petros Pappas, ( has claimed to have earned back a $250 million scrubber investment. Star bulk’s fleet is 94% scrubber equipped.


 Of course, these dirty/ocean polluting scrubbers are not anything to boast about. It is quite ironic. On one hand these companies tout their ESG credentials, but on the other they are the biggest polluters of the oceans.


We are compiling a list of all those “greenies” that are using these dirty scrubbers and will publish it asap. We encourage you to call them out!  


BIMCO:Scrubber Retrofits Dropped but Continue in Newbuilds (

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