The environment

We are dedicated to reducing our impact on the environment

Labour conditions

All Maersk employees are covered by a single set of labour principles designed to protect their rights and safety. These principles are informed by the International Labour Organization's fundamental conventions and are aligned with the UN Global Compact as well as the International Maritime Organization's labour convention.

Air emissions

The burning of fossil fuel releases SOx (sulphur oxides) and NOx (nitrogen oxides), as well as associated particles (PM) into the air which can have a wide variety of negative health and environmental impacts.

Regulation by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has capped the sulphur content of fuel in so-called Emission Control Areas in order to reduce emissions of SOx in these areas. From 1 January 2015, the maximum permitted sulphur content in fuel has been 0.10%. Current Emission Control Areas are the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, areas within 200 nautical miles off the US and Canadian coastlines as well as part of the Caribbean Sea. We comply fully with the stricter rules by switching to cleaner fuels.

From 2020 a global cap of 0.5% sulphur content in fuel will come into force. This was decided in 2016. A.P. Moller - Maersk will comply and is collaborating to push for sound enforcement mechanisms to be employed, mostly through the Trident Alliance.

Read more about our progress and activities in 2016


The permitted sulphur content in fuel as of 1 January 2015 in Emission Control Areas: The Baltic Sea, the North Sea, areas within 200 nautical miles off the US and Canadian coastlines as well as part of the Caribbean Sea.

New ships built after 1 January 2016 will be required to reduce NOx emissions by 80% when operating within emissions control areas in North America and Caribbean waters.

The goal is to create a level playing field for the industry.

Ballast water and regulation

Ships carry ballast water to provide stability and aid steering. Discharging ballast water originating from one marine environment into another can introduce alien species into a marine ecosystem, potentially impacting its ecological balance.

Following current legislation, Maersk Line do ballast water exchanges midway through the journey but this measure will not suffice in light of anticipated regulatory developments. In 2004, the IMO adopted the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC), which will require the installation of ballast water treatment systems on board all ships in international trade, both new buildings and existing ships. The BWMC will come into force in September 2017.

All relevant vessels delivered to A.P. Moller - Maersk from 2012 and beyond has been equipped with ballast water treatment systems.

It goes for the regulation of ballast water as well that the importance of a robust enforcement system cannot be overestimated. Without it, the playing field will be highly uneven and the motivation for investing in compliance will be decreased.

Ballast water
Ballast water tanks are filled to add weight to the ship once cargo has been discharged in order to improve its stability. Ballast water taken from one body of water and discharged in another body of water can introduce invasive species of aquatic life.


significant oil spill (>10m3) experienced by A.P. Moller - Maersk in 2016.

Oil spills

Oil spills constitute a risk which could potentially have very high impact on both people and the environment. It is a risk that is crucial to manage in many of our business activities, i.e. when we provide offshore drilling and deep-water services, when we extract and transport oil, or when we transport goods on large container vessels which run on bunker oil.

Our efforts are focused on continuously strengthening our culture and processes around safety, risk management and hazard identification as well as our emergency response procedures.

In 2016, A.P. Moller - Maersk had one significant oil spill, defined as above 10m3. When in January 2016, strong winds in Izmit, Turkey, led to a tug being called to assist Maersk Ahran. While doing so, it accidentally rammed into the side of the vessel, compromising the hull and resulting in an oil spill of 12.7m3. The oil was cleaned up by a local response team, no damage to natural sanctuaries was found and no legal implications of the incident incurred.

All Maersk businesses have prepared spill response plans and have process safety procedures in place to prevent such spills. Training is carried out on both prevention and response.


The Head of Sustainability in the Transport & Logistics division is responsible for setting the minimum requirements for HSE management systems in A.P. Moller - Maersk. The CEOs are responsible for the development and maintenance of HSE management systems within their respective areas of responsibility. The HSE management systems must meet A.P. Moller - Maersk's minimum requirements, detailing elements on various parts such as risk management, target setting and staff training.