Ship Industry ‘Nowhere Close’ to Sustainable Recycling, Group Says

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By Stephen Gardner

Shipowners worldwide sent 862 large ocean-going vessels for scrapping in 2016, with 668 ending up in Bangladeshi, Indian or Pakistani yards, despite international efforts to restrict unsafe ship breaking, according to figures the NGO Shipbreaking Platform published Feb. 1.

German and Greek shipowners were among the “worst global dumpers” of old ships, the coalition said. Of 100 German-owned ships sold for scrap in 2016, 98 were beached in south Asia, as were 104 of 113 obsolete Greek-owned vessels, according to the data.

Patrizia Heidegger, executive director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, said the figures showed that the “shipping industry is nowhere close to ensuring sustainable ship recycling practices.”

The South Asian beaching yards where most European Union end-of-life ships end up “are not only well-known for their failure to respect international environmental protection standards, but also for their disrespect of fundamental labor rights and international waste trade law,” Heidegger said.

The coalition highlighted an accident at Gadani breaking yard, near Karachi, Pakistan, in which a series of explosions Nov. 1, 2016, killed more than 20 workers who were dismantling an oil tanker. Another fire Jan. 10, 2017, at Gadani killed five more workers.

Ship Recycling Regulation

Under the 2013 EU Ship Recycling Regulation ((EU) No. 1257/2013),obsolete vessels bearing the flags of member countries should be broken up only in approved yards that meet minimum environmental and worker safety standards. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, published a first list of approved yards last December.

That list only covered yards in the EU. The commission will publish a follow-up list of non-EU yards during 2017.

NGO Shipbreaking Platform spokesman Nicola Mulinaris told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 1 that the EU list of approved recycling facilities “will function as an important market differentiator for yards that have already invested in proper occupational health, safety and environmental standards.”

EU shipowners, however, could still find it “very easy to circumvent the ship recycling regulation by simply using non-EU flags or by flagging out to a non-EU ship registry,” Mulinaris said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Gardner in Brussels at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at

For More Information

NGO Shipbreaking Platform 2016 data on ship dismantling is available at

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