Further Resources

Environmentally sound dismantling of ships

Environmentally sound dismantling of ships

Environmentally sound dismantling of ships

Ship dismantling, also commonly referred to as ship “recycling”, is an inherently sustainable activity, the benefits of which are felt at the global level. As the term ship “recycling” implies, value is derived from the materials and equipment comprising end of life ships: the scrap steel is melted down and is commonly used in the construction industries of ship recycling countries, and equipment (engines, mechanical parts or furniture) is refurbished and reused in other industries.

The industry is based predominantly in South Asia (in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan), which according to 2010 statistics, occupies approximately 70% of the global ship recycling market. Significant recycling activity also takes place in China (19%), with Turkey and other countries occupying the remaining 10% of the market. Beaching is the predominant method of ship recycling in the South Asian Region, whilst China and some other countries employ an alternative method known as pier breaking.

The past decade has seen a substantial variation in the level of activity in the industry. The supply of ships for recycling is subject to large variations as a consequence of the global demand for seaborne transport. From 2004 to 2008, the high demand for maritime transportation resulted in a record low number of ships being sold for recycling (only between 200 to 400 ships per annum, whereas the historical average is between 700 to 800 ships).

However, with the global economic recession in recent years, the demand for maritime transportation has declined. As a result, recycling activity peaked in 2009, with some 1200 ships being sent for recycling. Figures available until September 2010 indicate that high levels of recycling activity are set to continue.

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The Global Programme for Sustainable Ship Recycling

The Global Programme for Sustainable Ship Recycling

The Global Programme for Sustainable Ship Recycling

The Global Programme for Sustainable Ship Recycling was created in 2007 to facilitate improvements in worker health and safety and environmental conditions in ship recycling countries in the South Asia region. The Programme concept has been developed in close consultation with two other international organisations with an interest and expertise in ship recycling: the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The Secretariat of the Basel Convention seeks to work with all ship recycling stakeholders to ensure the future sustainability of the industry.

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Capacity Building

Parties to the Basel Convention have requested the Secretariat to develop implementation programmes for sustainable ship recycling, where possible in collaboration with other organizations such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Parties have recognised that ship recycling States and the facilities within their jurisdiction may require assistance in implementing the requirements of an international regime pertaining to ship recycling. 

The Global Programme for Sustainable Ship Recycling

The Secretariat thus seeks to assist those Parties with ship recycling industries in applying these controls through technical capacity building activities. To this end, the Secretariat developed the Global Programme for Sustainable Ship Recycling in 2007 to encourage collaboration between organizations, in particular with IMO and ILO, in facilitating improvements in worker health and safety and environmental conditions in ship recycling countries.

The activities developed under the Global Programme are outlined below.

Global Programme activities

Ship Recycling Technology & Knowledge Transfer Workshop

In May 2009, the Secretariat of the Basel Convention received a request for technical capacity building assistance in relation to ship recycling from the Government of Pakistan. In response, the Secretariat developed a concept for a Ship Recycling Technology & Knowledge Transfer Workshop to strengthen the regulatory, institutional, procedural and infrastructural capacity of Pakistan’s Government and industry to fulfill the relevant aspects of the Basel Convention in relation to ship recycling, particularly those dealing with the downstream management of hazardous and other wastes, and the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. The Ministry of Environment & Forestry and the Undersecretariat for Maritime Affairs of the Government of Turkey and the Ship Recyclers’ Association of Turkey, kindly agreed to host the Workshop in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Basel Convention. The Workshop was made possible as a result of voluntary funding to the Secretariat of the Basel Convention from the Governments of Norway and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Workshop took place from 14 to 16 July 2010 in Izmir, Turkey. A delegation from Pakistan, comprised of representatives from both Government and industry, participated in the Workshop. In addition, representatives from the Secretariat of the Basel Convention, the International Maritime Organization, the Government of Turkey, the Ship Recyclers’ Association of Turkey and Germanischer Lloyd were present.

Please click the following links for the agendalist of participants and report of the workshop.

Development of a case study elaborating models of compliant ship recycling facilities

case study was developed through which: (i) models of compliant ship recycling facilities were elaborated in consideration of the requirements of the Basel Convention and the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships and their respective guidelines; and (ii) actions were identified to be undertaken in the short, medium and long term at ship recycling facilities employing the beaching method to facilitate compliance with the two conventions.

On the basis of the case study, two sets of supportive guidance and associated ‘train-the-trainer’ materials were developed as follows:

  1. for management and supervisors at ship recycling facilities: what constitutes ESM at the facility level, and what steps can be taken at ship recycling facilities to facilitate ESM operations downstream; what operational and procedural steps are required at the facility level to ensure compliance with the Basel and Hong Kong Conventions; what are the key roles and respective competencies of management and staff in meeting these obligations; and,
  2. for the competent authority(ies) assuming the responsibility for regulating the industry: what constitutes ESM at the facility level; what processes must be employed to ensure effective monitoring and compliance with respect to the requirements of the two conventions at the ship recycling facility level; what processes must be employed to ensure effective monitoring and compliance with respect to waste management facilities downstream from the ship recycling facilities; what are the key roles and respective competencies of management and staff in meeting these obligations.

This project was completed in July 2012 and was funded through a grant received from the European Commission and funding from the Government of Norway.

Feasibility study to identify environmentally sound, cost effective alternatives to beaching

feasibility study was finalized in April 2013 to identify cost-effective, environmentally sound alternatives to the traditional beaching method of ship recycling. 

The following activities will form part of the study:

  1. a review of current ship recycling methods and identification of cost effective, environmentally sound alternatives to beaching. This work included consultations with those ship recycling facilities employing environmentally sound alternatives and with shipowners who utilise such facilities; 
  2. a field mission to facilities employing alternative methods of ship recycling to establish the parameters (operational, infrastructural) of such methods; and 
  3. development of a feasibility report providing: models of alternative environmentally sound ship recycling operations; identification of potential parties/industry partners and sites for the establishment of such facilities; and a costing estimate for the establishment and operation of such facilities.

This project was funded through a grant received from the European Commission.

Developing downstream hazardous waste management capacity in ship recycling countries

This capacity building activity will focus on the development of downstream hazardous waste management capacity in ship recycling countries.  While incremental steps are being taken to improve environmental and worker health and safety standards in the industry, particularly at the recycling facilities themselves, the ship recycling process cannot be environmentally sound unless suitable downstream infrastructure for the hazardous and other waste arising from ship recycling is established. For this reason, this activity shall focus on the development of inventories of hazardous waste in two pilot countries (Bangladesh and Pakistan) in the regions where ship recycling takes place. Following the development of the inventories, business cases will be developed to assist government and industry to establish the requisite infrastructure. These will be replicable in other regions/countries.

This project, which is designed to complement capacity building activities to be undertaken by both IMO and UNIDO in South Asia, will be completed by the end of 2013. The European Commission has provided the funding for this project.