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ECO Friendly Carnet for Cargo

Monday, January 25, 2021

The environment is on the mind of the world these days. In a statement made by Antonio Gutterres, UN Secretary-General, “Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st-century.  It must be the top, top priority for everyone, everywhere.”

The Port of Southampton in the U.K. has taken on the challenge of conservancy for many years now and has one of the most comprehensive sustainability programs of any port in the world.  It is host to a wide range of vessels—from recreational to cruise ships to cargo container vessels accommodating a distinctively diverse range of customers and trades.  As a natural, deep water harbor it can hold the world’s largest vessels and as the U.K.’s leading trade port, handles £71 billion worth of goods every year.  Environment and sustainability are key in their operations and their high standards are continually being improved.  Their aim: to ensure a “cleaner future”.

ECOsubsea, a Norwegian-based company with a headquarters in Southampton U.K., is a major contributor to that effort by providing an environmentally friendly, underwater hull cleaning service for vessels with a technologically advanced remote-controlled vehicle, known as the COLLECTOR.  Likened to a robotic vacuum cleaner/lawnmower, it gently combs underwater surfaces or hulls of ships to rid them of biofouling—a continual problem for vessels.  Biofouling is the accumulation of waterborne organisms on the surfaces of structures and vessels in water that corrode and degrade them.  It is problematic, resulting in a decrease in efficiency of moving parts, an increase in fuel usage, and exposure in ports to the threat of contamination by invasive species.  ECOsubsea has collaborated with over 20 leading ports to reach their sustainability targets.

Boomerang carnets® was approached by ECOsubsea for an ATA Carnet to temporarily export one of their vehicles to a port in Norway for a “cleaning job”.  ATA Carnets offer many benefits to temporary exporters including cost savings and ease through customs.  The internationally accepted customs document can be used when temporarily exporting merchandise, goods, or equipment.  Carnets allow the movement of goods across international borders import-duty and -tax free into 87+ carnet countries and territories, and back to the originating country, for up to a year.  

The COLLECTOR vehicle and system was developed by Tor Østervold (CEO) and Klaus Østervold (COO).  “Our remotely operated underwater vehicles gently remove all organic matter without damaging vessel coatings.  Simple, efficient and non-disruptive to port operations, the process protects your business and the local environment, with all matter automatically collected for biogas production/recycling.”  So far, since 2008, ECOsubsea has served 1,008 vessels and has saved nearly $388M in customer fuel costs, 2.5M tonnes of CO2 emissions, and produced 26K kilowatt-hours of biogas produced from fouling used to create electricity. 

Their ATA Carnet saved them $111K on import-duty and -taxes for this one trip alone.  Curt E.H. Wilson, President and CEO of boomerang carnets® finds this young enterprising company unique and their innovation as further confirmation that business very often brings needed solutions to many of the world’s problems.  “The important thing about this company is that they had to develop this technology because of the serious environmental concerns that must be addressed in world ports and in, for instance, the Port of Southampton who are constantly looking for improvements to sustain a clean environment.  This company has perfected the technology to do the cleaning without any of the waste or residue left in the sea.  The debris gets vacuumed out and repurposed, or rather recycled.  This is the key to their niche beyond what their competition does.  It’s the main difference in what they do from less advanced methods.  The Port of Southampton is a highly regulated port for the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem.  England is very pro-environment and there are many advancements and inventions being created to protect the environment.”

Virtually all types of goods can be transported under the ATA Carnet. There are few exceptions. Examples of acceptable carnet goods can be found here:

The ATA Carnet international customs document is the most versatile and affordable temporary export/import tool available to exporters.  If you have questions about your goods, contact one of our Carnet Specialists on the Carnet HelpLine® 1-800-ATA-2900 / 1-800-282-2900 or email us

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