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Ship recycling

Global Policy

International Maritime Organisation (IMO):

The IMO has in 2009 adopted the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. This Convention is not yet in force. To enter into force, the Hong Kong Convention needs to be ratified by at least 15 major flag and recycling countries to enter into force. These countries should represent at least 40 % of the world fleet and a significant part (almost 50 %) of the recycling capacity available worldwide. The Convention takes a “cradle to grave approach” and will regulate:

  • the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising their safety and operational efficiency.
  • the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and
  • the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling (certification / reporting).

Guidelines supporting the Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships are being developed by the IMO, as follows:

1) Development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (adopted and available here)

2) Survey and certification (adopted and available here)

3) Inspection of ships / Port state control (adopted and available here)

4) Authorization of Ship Recycling Facilities (adopted and available here)

5) Safe and environmentally sound ship recycling (adopted and available here)

6) Development of the Ship Recycling Plan (adopted and available here).

Basel Convention:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is relevant for ship dismantling, as a ship that is sent for scrapping usually contains hazardous materials and may be (hazardous) waste as well as a ship under other international conventions. The Conferences of the Parties (COPs) of the Basel Convention have adopted Technical Guidelines and various decisions on this issue, and the Secretariat has collected information on ship dismantling. For further information see the website.

The EU has contributed to the assessment of the levels of controls and enforcement established by the Basel and by the Hong Kong Convention with several submissions: in January 2008, January 2009 and April 2011.

In October 2011, the EU submitted a preliminary assessment of equivalence to the Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention, concluding that the Hong Kong Convention appears to provide a level of control and enforcement at least equivalent to that one provided by the Basel Convention. While there were different views as regards this equivalence, the parties to the Basel Convention have together encouraged the ratification of the Hong Kong Convention to enable its entry into force.

In March 2010, the Commission adopted a Communication presenting "An assessment of the link between the IMO Hong Kong Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships, the Basel Convention and the EU waste shipment regulation" (pdf~43Kb).

International Labour Organisation (ILO):

The ILO has adopted in 2004 technical guidelines on ship dismantling: "Safety and Health in Shipbreaking – Guidelines for Asian countries and Turkey". See website.

Further information on ILO activities.

Joint ILO/IMO/Basel Convention Working Group on Ship Scrapping:

ILO, IMO and Basel Convention have set up a Joint Working Group on Ship Scrapping, in order to coordinate their activities on this issue and remove gaps and overlaps of the respective guidelines. The Joint Working Group has held two sessions in 2005 and one in October 2008.

For details see: The report of the third session is accessible here.

World Bank:

The World Bank has published a study presenting an in-depth assessment of the ship breaking and recycling industry in Pakistan and Bangladesh.