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Ship recycling

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The EU pursues an ambitious policy to make ship recycling greener and safer. Currently, a vast majority of large vessels are dismantled in poor social and environmental conditions in South Asia. The impact of ship recycling has been documented in a thematic issue of Science for Environment Policy published by the Commission in June 2016.

The Ship Recycling Regulation adopted in 2013 by the the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union aims to reduce the negative impacts linked to the recycling of ships flying the flag of Member States of the Union. The Regulation lays down requirements that ships and recycling facilities have to fulfil in order to make sure that ship recycling takes place in an environment sound and safe manner.

Rules relating to hazardous materials on ships

The Regulation first prohibits or restricts the installation and use of hazardous materials (like asbestos or ozone-depleting substances) on board ships.

New European ships and EU-flagged ships going for dismantling must also have on board an inventory of hazardous materials (IHM) verified by the relevant administration or authority and specifying the location and approximate quantities of those materials. This obligation will also apply from 31 December 2020 to all existing ships sailing under the flag of Member States of the Union as well as to ships flying the flag of a third country and calling at an EU port or anchorage.

This will facilitate the recycling of vessels and reduce the presence of toxic materials on board ships. 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. EU Member States' port authorities will control ships to verify whether they have on board a ready-for-recycling certificate or a valid inventory of hazardous materials. To assist the Member States in this respect, EMSA published in October 2019 a new Guidance on inspections of ships by the port States in accordance with Regulation (EU) 1257/2013 on ship recycling.

The European List of ship recycling facilities

From 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. More information on this list and the criteria that ship recycling facilities must meet to be included in this list can be found here.

The EU Regulation and the Hong Kong Convention

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. The Hong Kong Convention has not entered into force. More information on global ship recycling policies can be found here.

The Ship Recycling Regulation and the Waste Shipment Regulation

To ensure legal clarity and avoid administrative burden, EU-flagged ships covered by the Ship Recycling Regulation are excluded from the scope of the Waste Shipment Regulation (EC) 1013/2006.

Safer ship recycling for a greener world Leaflet: Safer ship recycling for a greener world