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BRUSSELS: June 20, 2018. According to the Shipbreaking Platform, a coalition of NGOs trying to prevent toxic end-of-life ships from being beached in developing countries, the shipping industry is trying to undermine the European Commission’s Ship Recycling Regulation that comes into force in December this year.

Platform founder and executive director Ingvild Jenssen says the recent decision by the Chinese government to stop the import of end-of-life ships for scrapping has prompted operators to claim the EU doesn’t have enough recycling capacity and therefore they should be allowed to use existing beach yards in South East Asia.

Chittagong scrap yardThe 21 facilities that are currently on the EU List can recycle at least one million scrap tons (LDT) a year with 10 yards taking large vessels. The Platform says in 2017 less than 500,000 LDT was registered under an EU flag at end-of-life and 245,827 LDT ended up on the tidal shores of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

“As much as it is a pity that the Chinese yards who have already made efforts to be included on the List may now no longer be receiving EU-flagged ships for recycling, [we have] calculated that the facilities which are currently on the List, the 21 EU-based ones only, are in fact sufficient to recycle the entire EU-flagged fleet at end-of-life,” claims Jenssen.

Additional capacity outside the EU, as well as those operating in Italy and Norway, are expected to be included on the EU List before the application of the Regulation.

“The overall capacity and sizes of all the facilities that are compliant with EU law will easily accommodate the recycling needs of EU-flagged ships by January 01, 2019,” continues Janssen. “The scaremongering of the shipping industry therefore needs to be debunked, and the European Commission should not bow-down to the “’fake news’ spread by the ship owners.”

The Shipbreaking Platform, formed in 2005 by a coalition of environmental, human and labour rights organisations, says the majority of the ships sold for breaking today are run up on the tidal shores of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan - resulting in “extremely severe pollution, dangerous working conditions, exploitation of workers, and a blatant violation of international hazardous waste management laws”.

Janssen points out that 30 percent of end-of-life ships are owned by European companies – compared to only six percent registered under an EU flag: “There will be a need to support the expansion of existing or building of new facilities to ensure the clean and safe recycling of the many larger vessels that are owned by European companies. Circular economy is the buzzword and a return scheme for ships is the solution.”

Pictured: Chittagong, Bangladesh shipbreaking yard photographed by Andreas Ragnarsson.


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