Shipbreaking Industry Faces Criticism Over Recycling Practices, NGO Calls For EU Actions

According to NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s annual report, the shipbreaking business continued to receive criticism in 2023. The report highlighted the industry’s continued reliance on yards in Southeast Asia that are said to have inadequate safety and environmental regulations. In 2023, 85 per cent of scrapped ships ended up in Bangladesh, India, or Pakistan, according to the NGO, despite international legislation encouraging environmentally sound recycling.

The NGO highlighted the industry’s disregard for safety and environmental issues and its avoidance of legislation, even if the total rate of ship scrapping remained relatively consistent. The organisation called for increased enforcement actions from the European Union (EU) and other organisations. Shipbreaking Platform’s Executive Director and Founder, Ingvild Jenssen, claimed that ship dismantling on beaches is dangerous and unsustainable by nature. Jenssen also accused shipping corporations of failing to fulfil their responsibility to protect workers and coastal habitats. According to the analysis, 325 of the 446 oceangoing ships and offshore platforms demolished in 2023 ended up in the three countries stated above. With 170 vessels, Bangladesh received the most, followed by India with 140. In comparison, Turkey only received 44, with 49 going to foreign countries.

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In 2023, China emerged as the leading exporter of recycled vessels despite possessing state-of-the-art recycling infrastructure at home. The NGO mentioned that shipbreaking in Bangladesh and India was supported by nations such as South Korea, Greece, Russia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates. Pakistan’s participation dropped to 15 ships for political and economic reasons, but the NGO was still concerned about its inadequate safety record.

The report highlighted that labour and environmental laws govern ship recycling, but it also claimed that shipowners frequently disregarded and got around these restrictions. The NGO mentioned cases in Turkey where audits failed to comply with EU criteria, leading to higher air and water pollution than acceptable worldwide. The risks that labourers confront, including explosions and exposure to poisonous gases, were highlighted by the fact that Chattogram, Bangladesh, recorded at least six fatalities in 2023.

The NGO criticised prominent shipowners for continuing to deploy their vessels to South Asian beaches, especially those in Europe. In addition to highlighting the function of cash purchasers as middlemen, they disclosed that about half of the ships wrecked in 2023 had their flags altered just before arriving at the beach, with Cameroon, Comoros, Mongolia, Palau, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Tanzania being among the most often chosen flags.

The research demands that MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company stop shipping ships to the top three countries and explicitly name the company as the worst corporate dumper of 2023. It also accused the company of wrecking 14 container ships in Alang, India. An increase in the number of decommissioned ships is predicted in the next few years. Thus, the NGO asked the EU to reexamine ownership laws to improve responsibility for safe and ecologically sound ship recycling.

Reference: shipbreakingplatform

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