Each year, hundreds of large ships are dismantled in much criticized conditions on the beaches of South Asia. Ships are run aground on tidal mudflats, before low-paid workers – sometimes children – dismantle them, with little personal protective equipment or heavy machinery. The practice has caused dozens of fatalities among the workers, significant pollution to the surrounding environment and populations and it has garnered strong media and NGO attention. Global Trade Union group IndustriAll has called ship breaking "the world's most dangerous job". In June 2016, the Commission published a thematic issue of Science for Environment Policy focusing on the impacts of ship recycling.
The EU Ship Recycling Regulation
The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted the Ship Recycling Regulation on 20 November 2013. The objective of the Regulation is to reduce the negative impacts linked to the recycling of ships flying the flag of Member States of the Union. The Regulation brings forward 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 Regulation also includes additional safety and environmental requirements, as authorised by Article 1(2) of the Convention.
To ensure legal clarity and avoid administrative burden, ships covered by the new legislation will be excluded from the scope of the Waste Shipment Regulation (EC) 1013/2006.
The European List of ship recycling facilities
From a date set in the Regulation to fall between mid-2017 and 31 December 2018, large commercial seagoing vessels flying the flag of an EU Member State may be recycled only in safe and sound ship recycling facilities included in the European List of ship recycling facilities. The List was first established on 19 December 2016. It will be updated in the future through Implementing Acts to add more compliant facilities or to remove facilities which have ceased to comply.
To be included in the European List, any ship recycling facility irrespective of its location has to comply with a number of safety and environmental requirements. In April 2016, the Commission issued technical guidelines on these requirements. The Commission assesses applications received from the ship recycling facilities located in third countries. The template for applications of ship recycling facilities located outside the EU can be found here. For facilities located in the EU, it is the national authorities of the Member States which indicate to the Commission which facilities located on their territory are compliant.
Inventories of Hazardous Materials
With the new Regulation, the installation or use of certain hazardous materials on ships will be prohibited or restricted. These hazardous materials include for instance asbestos and ozone-depleting substances. Each new European ship (or a ship flying the flag of a third country calling at an 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. From the publication of the first European List of ship recycling facilities, EU-flagged ships going for dismantling must also have an Inventory of Hazardous Materials onboard. 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.
In November 2016, EMSA, the European Maritime Safety Agency, published a Best Practice Guidance on the Inventory of Hazardous Materials for practitioners on the field, ship owners and national authorities.