EU Increases Approved Yards Addressing Current Constraint on Ship Recycling

EU expanded its list adding three new scrapyards and renewing three more to help address capacity constraints (file photo)

Published Jul 28, 2023 9:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

Pressure continues to mount to address the lack of facilities approved by the European Union to address end-of-life ships. There is a growing concern that companies operating within the EU already face significant constraints on recycling capacity with will only get worse as the industry transitions away from older fossil fuel vessels to address emerging emissions standards.

Analysts highlight that roughly 15,000 ships with a deadweight capacity of over 600 million tonnes are already in line for dismantling over the next decade. While that number will likely increase due to tough decarbonization regulations, Europe lacks the capacity to recycle end-of-life vessels. The challenge is further compounded by the fact that a majority of the yards currently approved have length and draft constraints, meaning it will be difficult for them to handle the larger ships expected to head for recycling in the future.

Responding to some of the concerns, the European Commission has adopted the 11th edition of the European List of ship recycling facilities. They added three new yards, Anadolu Gemi Söküm, BMS Gemi Geri Dönü?üm, and Kiliçlar Geri Dönü?ümlü Maddeler, all in Turkey to the recognized facilities. Three other yards, San Giorgio del Porto in Italy whose authorization had expired on June 6, 2023, and Denmark’s Modern American Recycling Services Europe and Fayard whose authorization was set to expire on August 23, 2023 and November 7, 2023, also had their licenses renewed.

The latest revision increased the number of yards approved to dismantle vessels under strict safety, health, and environmental conditions established by the EU to 48. The revised list includes 38 yards in Europe (EU, Norway, and UK), nine yards in Turkey, and one yard in the U.S., each of which has the mandate to dismantle end-of-life ships.

“As part of the implementation of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, the Commission will continue and increase the monitoring of compliance of the yards on the European List with the conditions set out in EU legislation, including, when necessary, through unannounced inspections,” the regulators said in announcing the release of the revised list.

Europe, whose shipowners possess around 40 percent of the world fleet, has intensified the crackdown on member states' flagged ships being dismantled outside the approved yards. Specifically, they are targeting yards in Southeast Asia where recycling is performed under conditions that do not meet the EU’s standards for protecting workers’ health and the environment.

Data from the NGO Shipbreaking Platform shows that a total of 443 ocean-going commercial ships and floating offshore units were sold to the scrapyards in 2022. Of these, 292 of the largest tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo and passenger ships ended up on the beaches of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, amounting to more than 80 percent of the gross tonnage dismantled globally.

The NGO reports that in 2022 at least 10 workers lost their lives when breaking vessels on the beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh with another 33 severely injured. Another three deaths were documented in India with three injuries occurring in Pakistan. They highlight that some of the accidents took place onboard vessels formerly owned by well-known shipping companies including Berge Bulk, Sinokor, and Winson Oil.

The enactment of the tough EU Ship Recycling Regulations in 2018 has been instrumental in drastically cutting down the number of EU-flagged vessels being dismantled in southeast Asia. The NGO reports that Greece is the main EU member still sending end-of-life ships to the Asian beaches. Yards in Alang, India for example have also been working to improve their standing in order to gain EU certification.

The European list of approved yards is regularly updated to add further compliant facilities or to remove facilities that have ceased to comply with a number of strict safety and environmental requirements. Ship recycling facilities located in other countries and seeking to recycle ships flying a flag of a member state, can only be included in the list following thorough evaluation and checks on their compliance with the regulations.

Also looming over the shipbreaking industry is the pending newly-ratified Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. After years of lobbying, Liberia and Bangladesh ratified the global standard which will now enter into effect in 2025. It could help to see the Southeast Asian facilities gain broader acceptance but others worry it will only provide a justification for shipowners to continue to use yards that have lower standards for environmental and safety issues.

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