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Sustainable ship recycling is not a matter of geography

It is a natural part of a ship’s life cycle to be taken out of service for dismantling and recycling. Right now there is an ongoing debate of whether the “beaching” recycling method used in South Asia should be banned. The reason why the debate often flares up is that 60% of the world’s vessels are dismantled on the beaches of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and that these area in particular have been notorious for poor safety and environment conditions. In addition the requirements for the EU white list of yards based on the EU Ship Recycling Regulation risk to become an a priori exclusion of South Asian yards.

But Alang is not just Alang – writes Director Maria Bruun Skipper, Danish Shipowners’ Association, in an article from Spring 2015, following a visit to Alang, India. The point is that we all have a responsibility to ensure that the recycling is done without compromising neither the health and safety of the workers nor the environment:

“A couple of the yards we visited have invested in technology and established safety procedures to ensure that ships are recycled safely and that the environment is protected against leakage of harmful substances. It is up to the classification societies to certify that the standards are met, but in my view it would be extremely counterproductive if the yards, which have made important investments, are excluded based on geography and the concept of ‘beaching’ as a method. The DSA does not by any means accept poor standards, but we strongly recommend individual assessment of each yard. This is also what we advice our members to do. Unacceptable ship recycling can take place anywhere in the world”, says Maria Bruun Skipper.

“The UN’s maritime organization, IMO, has adopted the “Hong Kong Convention” which sets requirements for safe and environmentally sound recycling. Despite the fact that Denmark has yet to ratify the Convention, we do however recommend our members to follow the IMO standards and are fully in line with e.g. our Norwegian colleagues as regards the Convention’s primacy. Norway is one of the few countries who have actually ratified the Convention”, adds Maria Bruun Skipper.

The Danish position is fully in line with the European position where the European maritime organisation, ECSA is working on the global ratification of the Hong Kong Convention.
Source: Danish Shipowners Association

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