Mind the gap in green ship recycling

By Rakesh Bhargava, CEO, Sea Sentinels

Read the original article at LinkedIn

The route to hazardous shipbreaking practice is, it seems, paved with good intentions. While responsible shipowners may have in place a sustainable ship recycling plan, it is quite another thing to ensure this is implemented on the ground.

Recent court cases have highlighted the legal risk for shipowners when old tonnage is disposed of without adequate safeguards in place to prevent ships being sold on by cash buyers for dismantling at yards with a poor record on safety, human rights and environmental pollution.

This can of course also pose a reputational risk for owners due to increasing regulatory and market pressure for safe and green recycling that minimises the risk of accidents, eliminates the use of child labour and is carried out with proper disposal of hazardous waste to prevent pollution.

Despite the fact many shipowners have policies for responsible ship recycling, a disproportionately high volume of gross tonnage that is recycled each year is still handled in sub-standard health, safety and environmental conditions.

This would appear to indicate there is a gap between policy intentions and actual implementation at the shipbreaking yard. So how can that gap be closed?

The Hong Kong Convention (HKC), though it has yet to be ratified and enter into force, is seen as the global benchmark for safe and sustainable recycling that should be the minimum requirement for shipowners when scrapping tonnage.

A growing number of South Asian yards, mainly in Alang, India, have invested to upgrade their facilities to become compliant with the HKC.

The EU Ship Recycling Regulation goes even further and requires all EU-flagged commercial vessels to be recycled at yards on a list of EU-approved facilities, with non-OECD yards also aspiring to join this list.

But simply selecting a compliant yard is not enough.

As recent cases have shown, there needs to be a legally binding contract in place to guarantee the ship is recycled in a compliant manner and counter the practice whereby some cash buyers rename and re-flag vessels so they can be sold on at a profit to non-compliant yards.

Due diligence is also important in the contractual process with vetting of both the cash buyer and destination yard, as well as third-party expert and unbiased supervision at the yard to monitor implementation of the recycling plan and document that proper procedures have been followed.

But negotiating these different hurdles can be a minefield for the shipowner - and professional guidance every step of the way can mitigate the risk of a legal bombshell.

Sea Sentinels has specialist expertise and long experience in safe and sustainable recycling of marine assets and can manage every step of the recycling process - from benchmarking and vetting of yards and inventory of hazardous materials to independent on-site monitoring by expert personnel to ensure compliance with regulations and the shipowner’s ship recycling plan, with reporting to verify compliance.

For more information, contact:

Rakesh Bhargava, CEO
Sea Sentinels
Email: Rakesh.Bhargava@sea-sentinels.com
Tel: +60 12 215 0137