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Ship recycling

dismantling ships

Adoption, entry into force, application of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation:

  • The EU Ship Recycling Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the EU on Tuesday 10 December 2013. It will enter into force on 30 December 2013; while its different articles will apply at different stages, all detailed in article 32 of the Regulation. The official text of the Regulation can be found here.
  • The European Parliament had formally adopted the Regulation in plenary on 22 October 2013, followed by the Council on 15 November.
  • On 11 July 2013, the new law was backed by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament (Press Release).
  • On 27 June 2013, the Council had endorsed a compromise text of the new Ship Recycling Regulation agreed with the European Parliament.
    The statement of Commissioner Potočnik can be read here.

New Ship Recycling Regulation – objectives and main elements

The objective of the Regulation is to reduce the negative impacts linked to the recycling of EU-flagged ships, especially in South Asia, without creating unnecessary economic burdens. It brings into force an early implementation of the requirements of the 2009 Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, therefore contributing to its global entry into force.

The new Ship Recycling Regulation will apply to large commercial seagoing vessels flying the flag of the EU Member State, and to ships flying the flag of the third country calling at EU ports or anchorages. In order to ensure legal clarity and avoid administrative burdens, ships covered by the new legislation would be excluded from the scope of the Waste Shipment Regulation (EC) 1013/2006.

The Regulation sets out a number of requirements for European ships, European ship owners, ship recycling facilities willing to recycle European ships, and the relevant competent authorities or administrations. It also requires the Commission to adopt a number of acts implementing the Regulation (in particular the European List of ship recycling facilities authorized to recycle ships flying the Union flag).

According to the new rules, the installation or use of certain hazardous materials on ships will be prohibited or restricted. These hazardous materials include asbestos, ozone-depleting substances, PCBs, PFOS, and anti-fouling compounds and systems. Each new European ship (or a ship flying a flag of the third country calling at EU port or anchorage) will be required to have on board an inventory of hazardous materials verified by the relevant administration or authority and specifying the location and approximate quantities of those materials.

European ship owners will have to ensure that ships are only recycled in ship recycling facilities included in the European List. They will have to ensure that each end-of-life ship is prepared for recycling. In order to do this, they will have to provide the necessary information about the ship to the ship recycling facility, notify the intention to recycle the ship to the relevant administration, provide an updated inventory of hazardous materials, and minimise the amount of cargo residues, remaining fuel oil and ship generated wastes remaining on board. They will also have to provide a ready for recycling certificate to the ship recycling facility which will recycle their ship.

Prior to any recycling of a European ship, a ship recycling plan will have to be developed by the operator of the ship recycling facility based on the information provided by the ship owner. The plan will contain information about the ship essential for its safe and sound treatment and thus will facilitate the work of the ship recycling facility. European ships will undergo surveys verifying compliance of the inventory of hazardous materials with the requirements of the Regulation.

EU Member States' port authorities will be authorised to control European ships to verify whether they have on board a ready for recycling certificate or a valid inventory of hazardous materials, whatever is relevant.

In order to be included in the European List, any ship recycling facility irrespective of its location will have to comply with a number of requirements. The Commission will assess the applications received from the ship recycling facilities located in third countries. For facilities located in the EU Member States, this assessment will be done by national authorities and its result will be provided to the Commission. The European List will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and on the website of the Commission at the latest thirty six months after the date of entry into force of this Regulation (i.e. at the latest by the end 2016). The Commission will be able to regularly update the European List in order to include or remove a ship recycling facility from the List.

The European Parliament informs on the process of the procedure via its webpage.

Commission proposal for a Ship Recycling Regulation:

On 23 March 2012, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on Ship Recycling, and for a Council Decision regarding ratification of the Hong Kong Convention. The documents are available as follows:

Background of the proposal

Worldwide, around 1000 large end-of-life ships are broken up and recycled every year, as their steel, other scrap metal and equipment constitute valuable raw materials. Most of this ship dismantling takes place in South Asia, often on tidal beaches and under dangerous conditions. While the industry provides thousands of jobs for migrant workers, a lack of environmental protection and safety measures leads to high accident rates, health risks and extensive pollution of coastal areas. Older ships contain many hazardous materials, including asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), tributyl tin and large quantities of oils and oil sludge.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said at the occasion of the Commission proposal: "Although the ship recycling sector has improved its practices, many facilities continue to operate under conditions that are dangerous and damaging. This proposal aims to ensure that our old ships are recycled in a way that respects the health of workers as well as the environment. It is a clear signal to invest urgently in upgrading recycling facilities.” Commissioner Potočnik presented the regulation jointly with Vice President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for Transport.

The new Regulation should build upon the Hong Kong Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships, which was adopted in 2009, and aim to implement the Convention quickly, without waiting for its ratification and entry into force - a process which can take many years. To speed up the formal entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention, the Commission proposal for a Ship Recycling Regulation was accompanied by a draft decision requiring Member States to ratify the Hong Kong Convention.