Recycling ships safely and without harming the environment

How does one recycle ships safely and without damage to the environment? The 2009 Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling imposes a set of clear and relevant requirements for this purpose on shipowners, shipyards and all other IMO parties involved (i.e. governments). To cover the period until the Convention comes into force, the European Commission introduced a regulation in April 2012, applicable to large merchant ocean-going vessels of above 500 GT, i.e. the category of vessels concerned by the Hong Kong Convention.

The European regulation is based on the technical standards of the Hong Kong Convention, which is positive. However the regulation goes much further, setting additional requirements with respect to recycling facilities and proposing for a European list of approved recycling facilities. The European Union needs to ensure that the Hong Kong Convention enters into force as quickly as possible. In our view, this is a primary goal.

The most controversial part of the regulation has been the publication of a list of EU-approved recycling facilities approved recycling facilities, where vessels under European flags should be dismantled. The EU should not exclude shipyards outside Europe. Those yards should rather be supported and encouraged to improve their standards in the next few years.