European Shipowners Support To Break The Recycling Stalemate


  • Under current legislation, this breaches the law even when non-OECD facilities advance their standards and comply with the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (SRR) criteria.
  • The Commission’s proposal would clarify the legal framework.
  • Most of these vessels are not EU-controlled in any case.

The European Community Shipowners Associations have praised the European Commission’s proposal for a new law on garbage shipments, which might overcome the present ship recycling impasse (ECSA) as reported by Seatrade Maritime.

Recycling ships

ECSA stated in a recent Position Paper that it could allow EU-based shipowners to recycle end-of-life ships at non-OECD facilities in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Even when non-OECD facilities improve their standards and meet the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (SRR) criteria, this is illegal under existing rules.

Sotiris Raptis, ECSA’s interim Secretary-General, and Fanny Lossy, Senior Policy Advisor, Maritime Safety, Environment & Offshore, have given Seatrade Maritime News an overview of the complex background. 

Exporting waste

For two reasons, recycling yards on the Indian subcontinent, as it is known in the recycling industry, are off-limits to European shipping companies.

One, despite major investment and facility renovations, no yards in the region have yet been recognised under the EU SRR system, despite the fact that key classification societies have certified a number of yards as complying with the IMO’s Hong Kong Convention. Second, the so-called Basel Convention ‘Ban Amendment,’ which has been in effect since December 2019, prohibits the export of ‘waste’ from the EU to non-OECD countries.

Improving standards

Even though regional facilities completely conform with the EU SRR’s strict criteria, the European Commission believes that the EU is no longer able to add them to its list of approved facilities due to the Basel ban. As a result, recycling ships could be accused of violating the Basel Convention.

Over the last few years, a number of non-OECD facilities have significantly improved their standards. Sotiris told Seatrade Maritime News that the EU should support further advancement rather than attempting to remove these services from the market. “This suggestion is welcome because it keeps the door open,” he said.

Legal framework

The legal framework would be clarified by the Commission’s proposal. EU-flagged ships that become garbage outside of the EU may be recycled in non-OECD nations if the yards were allowed under the EU SRR. What counts is whether EU-flagged ships become rubbish outside the EU, not whether a corporation is situated in the EU.

Recycling would still have to take place in an EU-approved facility, thus the Commission’s plan would still give a strong incentive for subcontinent recycling yards to make the necessary improvements to buildings, toxic waste management systems, and access to emergency health services.

Safe and sound

ECSA stated in its Position Paper: “The formation of a European list with enough capacity is therefore urgently needed in order for the EU-flagged fleet to be recycled in a safe and environmentally sound way, which:

– includes facilities that meet the EU Ship Recycling Regulation’s standards; 

– includes facilities that can recycle large seagoing vessels; 

– is geographically well-balanced, appropriate to the needs of a global business; 

– ensures sufficient recycling capacity and is market-responsive.”


There are currently no viable alternatives for recycling large boats such as VLCCs and Suezmax tankers, Capesize and Panamax bulk carriers, and large container ships. Ships like these must be dismantled using a method known as ‘beaching,’ which is totally safe if done correctly. Lobby organisations, on the other hand, have emphasised the industry’s poor safety record, claiming that the beaching process is shoddy and dangerous.

Since China exited the ship dismantle sector in 2018, the only alternative ship recycling location is Aliaga, Turkey, an OECD member with yards that are currently booked for months, specialising in the complicated recycling of cruise ships — epidemic victims. In any case, the majority of these ships are not under EU control.

Commercial vessels

For most commercial vessels owned or operated in Europe, there are no alternative possibilities. Despite the fact that the EU has approved recycling facilities around Europe, the majority are small and only appropriate for trawlers, workboats, and tenders. Furthermore, there is no need for scrap steel in Europe, so the steel would have to be discarded or transferred to nations that require it, putting a strain on recycling economics, sustainability, and carbon emissions.

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Source: Seatrade Maritime 


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