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Ports of Auckland to Eliminate Methyl Bromide Emissions

Company will require total recapture of methyl bromide by 31 December 2017

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 necessary.


“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.