Opposing views on EU recycling voiced

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 11 April 2019


Two very different views on EU ship recycling have been expressed as the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and BIMCO both release announcements on shipbreaking in Q1 2019.

The former has accused EU shipowners of circumventing EU rules and continuing to scrap ships on Asian beaches while the latter has argued that European facilities are insufficient and the EU authorities are compounding the problem by delaying approval of overseas recycling yards.

Regulation (EU) 1257/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on ship recycling came into force on 1 January 2019. It requires EU flagged ships to be recycled at approved yards on the EU list. BIMCO has said that EU yards are apparently allowed on the list without fulfilling uniform criteria, whereas non-EU yards have to be inspected by European Commission appointed auditors according to clear criteria before inclusion on the list. So far, only two Turkish and one US yard have been included.

Only nine shipyards, out of 26, on the EU list of approved recycling facilities are realistically open for ship recycling, and only three of the 26 could recycle a large ship (Panamax size or larger), a study commissioned by BIMCO shows.

NEWS STORY PRESS RELEASE PRIORITY NEWS ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION SAFETY EUROPEAN UNION “The EU list is hard to take seriously. I called one of these “recycling shipyards” a few months ago, and they hadn’t even started building the yard yet,” said Angus Frew, BIMCO Secretary General & CEO. ”The list look a little like protectionism and clearly disadvantages European ship owners,” he added

BIMCO believes that audits should consider and reward improvements to health, safety and environmental protection that have been achieved at facilities in Asia. Furthermore, there should also be actual inspection of the EU yards. Currently, some Asian yards have waited two years for approval after submitting their application without any prospect or pathway to inclusion on the list.

“BIMCO wants the facilities to improve their safety and environmental performance, but if there is no path for non-EU facilities to get on the EU list, the regulation will continue failing to achieve that objective, and simply be an act to protect the EU ship recycling market,” Frew said.

The Hong Kong Convention needs to enter into force as soon as possible, and it is essential that improvements are recognised also from the decision makers in Europe. India, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and Turkey recycle 98% of all tonnage in the world, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). BIMCO commissioned a study from Marprof Environmental in February 2019. The result of the study “Report on the European List of Ship Recycling Facilities” is available on the BIMCO website.

For its part, NGO shipbreaking Platform says European owners are circumventing rules by reflagging end of life vessels before beaching them. In a report detailing scrapping statistics for the first three months of 2019, the organisation said, “The shipping industry claims that it is forced to re-flag as there is not enough capacity on the EU List. A report published in September last year by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and Transport & Environment, however, showed that there was more than enough capacity, both in terms of tonnage and size, to cater for the EU flagged end-of-life fleet. Since then, two Turkish yards, a yard in the US and more European yards have been added to the list”.

The statement by NGO Shipbreaking Platform concluded by saying “This week the European Commission also announced that it intends to add a further eight yards operating in Denmark, Norway and Turkey to the List. Clearly, however, more efforts to detect violations of European waste law and stronger incentives, such as a return scheme for all vessels trading in the EU, are needed to ensure use of the EU list and proper enforcement of current legislation on ship recycling”.

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