As part of Ports of Auckland’s ambition to be the most
sustainable port in New Zealand, the company will require the total recapture
of methyl bromide gas used for container fumigation by September 1, 2017, and
for all cargoes by the end of the year.
Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson said “Methyl bromide
is a very effective pesticide and a key part of New Zealand’s biosecurity
defence, but it is toxic to humans and depletes the ozone layer. By recapturing
the gas after use we can improve safety, protect the environment and still keep
unwanted pests out of New Zealand.”
At Ports of Auckland both containers and loose or
‘breakbulk’ cargo are fumigated by pumping the gas into a container or a
tarpaulin covering the freight. After fumigation, the gas is vented to the
atmosphere and it is this last stage that will be stopped.
Ports of Auckland has a history of innovation to
reduce methyl bromide use. It is the first and only port in New Zealand to use
heat treatment, instead of fumigation, for some cargoes. Heat treatment is not
suitable for all cargoes (for example fresh fruit) so fumigation is still
“We are not a major user of methyl bromide, but when
it comes to caring for our people and the environment we think it is important
to address every issue even if it seems small. Every step we take to reduce our
emissions takes us closer to our ambitious goal of having zero emissions by
2040,” concluded Tony Gibson.
Notes for editors:
Methyl bromide is an effective and versatile fumigant
used to kill unwanted pests. It is used in New Zealand for the eradication of
quarantine pests from import and export cargo. While it is a useful tool at the
border, it toxic to humans and is an ozone depleting substance.
New Zealand’s current annual consumption of methyl
bromide is about 525 tonnes.
561 containers were fumigated at Ports of Auckland in
2015 and 282 ‘tent’ fumigations took place. 5.3 tonnes of methyl bromide was
used on the port, about 1% of the New Zealand total.
Fascinating fact: It is estimated that marine organisms produce 1-2
million tonnes of methyl bromide annually.