Garbage management

It is mandatory under Australian maritime legislation for certain vessels and fixed or floating platforms to carry a garbage management plan, display placards and maintain a garbage record book.

Your vessel or fixed or floating platform may be subject to inspection by state, territory, or Commonwealth officials to check that you have a garbage management plan, display placards—also known as stickers—and maintain a garbage record book.

Mandatory plans

Garbage management plans are mandatory for:

  • vessels of 100 gross tonnage and above
  • vessels certified to carry 15 or more people
  • fixed or floating platforms.

Garbage management plans must include written procedures for minimising, collecting, storing, processing and disposing of garbage.

How to create your garbage management plan

Before you write your garbage management plan, there are a few things you need to consider:

  • reducing generated garbage
  • reusing and recycling where possible
  • on board processing options
  • use of shore-based facilities for disposal.

Think about how you can minimise domestic garbage through provisioning practices:

  • While bulk-packaged consumable items may create less garbage, consider the shelf-life once a container has been opened to avoid creating garbage.
  • Reusable packaging and containers can reduce waste.
  • Where possible, use washable items such as crockery and avoiding disposal cups, utensils, plates, towels, rags and other convenience items.
  • Consider using supplies that come in reusable or recyclable packaging.

When preparing your garbage management plan, follow the IMO Guidelines for the development of garbage management plans to make sure your plan will pass inspection.

Make sure you include sections on:

  • designated person or persons in charge of carrying out the plan
  • procedures for collecting garbage
  • procedures for processing garbage
  • procedures for storing garbage
  • procedures for disposing of garbage.

The information in your plan must be suited to your vessel and take into account its size, equipment on board and the number of persons on board. You must include all sections listed above in your plan.

You don't need our approval to certify your plan, but you will be subject to survey and inspection. When your vessel is surveyed or inspected, your garbage management plan will be checked.  

These requirements are in line with Annex V of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)—Regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships.

Garbage placards

Garbage placards—also known as stickers—are mandatory for:

  • vessels of 12 metres or more in length
  • fixed or floating platform.

Placards (or stickers) advise the crew and passengers of the rules related to the discharge of garbage into the sea and should be displayed on the vessel where they are visible for both crew and passengers.

There is no standard format for a placard, but we have developed four types that will assist owners and operators comply with these requirements.

We provide placards free-of-charge on request. To order your placards, use our non-chargeable publications order form.

Garbage record books

Garbage record books are mandatory for:

  • vessels of 400 gross tonnage and above
  • vessels certified to carry 15 or more people engaged in international voyages
  • fixed or floating platforms.

Garbage record books can be purchased from us at a cost of $4. To order garbage record books, use our online ordering system for chargeable publications.

Maintaining a garbage record book for your vessel is mandatory under Australian legislation. If you'd like to know more, read the MARPOL Annex V Garbage Record Book Marine Notice 2017/03 and the MARPOL Annex V Discharges Marine Notice 2017/04.

You must keep your completed garbage record books for a minimum of two years from the date of the last entry made in it. The entry for each discharge or incineration must include the date and time, position of the ship, category of garbage and estimated quantity discharged or incinerated. You must record the details of every garbage discharge or completed incineration in this book. This includes:

  • permitted discharges to sea
  • discharges to onshore facilities
  • discharges to other vessels
  • any accidental loss of garbage overboard.

Last updated: 

Tuesday 9 May 2023