Ship Recycling Regulations for EU Ships in Process

By George Backwell at March 24, 2012 02:18
Filed Under: General

The European Commission proposed new rules a few days ago requiring ships of the European Union (EU) to be recycled (scrapped) only in facilities that are approved as safe for workers and environmentally sound; while shipowners would have to apply for an ‘Inventory Certificate’ of hazardous waste on board (reduced if deemed necessary) before delivery to a listed shipbreaker. Hazardous waste in lder ships contains many hazardous materials, including asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), tributyl tin and large quantities of oils and oil sludge.

Shipbreaking on Beach, Bangladesh: Photo credit Wiki CCL Stéphane M Grueso

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Although the ship recycling sector has improved its practices, many facilities continue to operate under conditions that are dangerous and damaging. This proposal aims to ensure that our old ships are recycled in a way that respects the health of workers as well as the environment. It is a clear signal to invest urgently in upgrading recycling facilities.”

Ship Recycling – Asia the Preferred Destination

According to the current legislation (the Waste Shipment Regulation) EU flagged ships going for scrap can only be dismantled within a member state of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development  (OECD). This legislation is almost systematically circumvented by EU flagged ships, say the Commission ( on cost-saving grounds) and currently most EU controlled ships are dismantled in Asia (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), usually through the ‘beaching’ method and with significant environmental and health impacts. The new proposal aims to address the shortcomings of this legislation and to allow, under strict conditions, the recycling of EU-flagged ships in these Asian non-OECD countries.

In 2009 ship dismantling data revealed:

Ship Recycling Yards and Shipowners – New Responsibilities

Some of the requirements to be met by the ship recycling facilities are stricter than those foreseen by the Hong Kong Convention on Ship Recycling (stalled, perhaps for some years, as ratification by member states is tardy) whose foundations are built on by the EU proposal. The proposed new regulations will ensure European-flag ships are better traced for accountability, and will guarantee that the waste resulting from dismantling (and any hazardous materials it contains) is managed in an environmentally sound way.

For shipowners, the proposal a system of survey, certification and authorisation for large commercial seagoing vessels that fly the flag of an EU Member State, covering the whole life cycle of the ship from construction to operation and recycling.

To ensure compliance, the proposal requires ship owners to report to national authorities when they intend to send a ship for recycling. By comparing the list of ships for which they have issued an inventory certificate with the list of ships which have been recycled in authorised facilities, authorities will be able to spot illegal recycling more easily. The European Commission also intend that sanctions proposed in the new regulations will also be more specific and precise.

For full information on the European Commission proposals click here.



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