NGOs Urge on EU’s Intent To Export Toxic Ships To Developing Countries


  • In a new report, the NGOs call upon the EU to take urgent action to reform both the Waste Shipment Regulation and the Ship Recycling Regulation to ensure they are legally consistent with the international Basel Convention.
  • They note with concern that proposals have been made for the EU to enter into a special bilateral agreement with certain shipbreaking states as a supposed legitimate means to circumvent the Basel Convention’s Ban Amendment.
  • Bolstered by a new analysis by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the report explains why that is not acceptable both from a legal standpoint and as a matter of policy.

Five leading environmental organizations issued a report expressing their concerns over EU’s intent to allow the exportation of end-of-life vessels to South Asia, reads a press release from NGO Shipbuilding Platform.

Violation of International Treaty

In particular, the report suggests that the EU could violate its own laws and international treaty agreements if it decides to allow the exportation of end-of-life vessels to South Asia.

Namely, the Basel Action Network (BAN), the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Greenpeace, and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, warn that the European Union’s legislation allowing the export of toxic ships to developing countries, violates Member States’ obligations under the Basel Convention and is in contradiction with the EU’s new strategic economic and environmental policy initiatives.

  • The Basel Ban Amendment prohibits developed nations from sending hazardous waste, including defunct ships – to developing nations.
  • This outright ban entered into effect in December 2019, and its application is limited to certain Basel Ban signatory nations, including EU member states.

By allowing the breaking of European vessels in the Global South, Europe is not only exporting hazardous waste and threatening people’s health in developing countries, but also contradicting its own ambition to boost the domestic supply of secondary raw materials – as set out in its circular economy action plan,” Stéphane Arditi – Circular Economy Policy Manager – European Environmental Bureau (EEB), noted.

Zero-emissions steel initiatives

In light of the situation, NGOs call on the EU to seize the opportunity to boost safe and clean ship recycling in Europe, as well as to promote the design and building of toxic-free vessels and to push for ‘zero-emissions steel’ initiatives.

The EU can’t have it both ways. They cannot project that they promote a new way of thinking with the European Green Deal and prevent exports of hazardous wastes to developing countries, while seeking to bend their existing legal obligations to enable the shipping industry to do just that,” said Ingvild Jenssen, the executive director and founder of NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

In particular, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform warned that authorizing the use of South Asian shipbreakers would undermine the EU’s aspirations for a European Green Deal, as well as its commitment to the rule of law.

Compliant ship recycling 

Overall, industry insiders have produced a number of responses to these news. Many of them are highlighting that regulation associated with ship recycling has been so far more complicated rather than effective.

For example, IHM and Ship Recycling services expert, Henning Gramann expressed his concern over these recent developments, commenting on Linkedin the following, “I really wonder what happened. First the EU-Ship Recycling Regulation (EU-SRR) was promoted by these NGOs and Hong Kong Convention has never been good enough for them. Now, 7 years later even EU-SRR is heavily critiziced.”

He concluded, “Do they want to keep ship recycling unregulated entirely, or create a monopoly and all ships should be recycled in Europe? Do they fear that EU will find a solution to authorize compliant ship recycling yards even though they are located in non-OECD countries despite Basel Ban Amendment? Or are they simply looking for funding when the world tries to deal with a serious pandemic?

Read More: Contradiction in Terms: European Union must align its ship exports with International Law and Green Deal Policies

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Source: NGO Ship Breaking Platform


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