The European Union already has enough approved ship recycling yards to meet scrapping demand for EU-flagged ships, according to a report from the NGOs Shipbreaking Platform and Transport & Environment (T&E).
The European Commission maintains a global list of facilities that operate in line with the standards for ship recycling set by the upcoming EU Ship Recycling Regulation (SRR). Once the SRR enters into force on 1 January 2019, ship owners with end-of-life vessels registered under the flag of an EU member state will be legally bound to use one of the bloc’s 20 approved ship recycling facilities.
A statement from T&E suggests that some shipping industry players want low-cost ship “breaking” yards outside of the EU to be added to the bloc’s approved list to meet demand from vessels bound by the SRR.
According to the NGO, some shipowners have cited EU yards’ historic recycling output to claim that they’re over capacity. However, many European yards are operating below their maximum capacity due to being undercut by substandard facilities overseas.
Shipyards that use the beaching method are of particular concern, as it’s very difficult to contain the spill of the toxic materials stored on board end-of-life vessels. Workers at these facilities, many of whom don’t have adequate personal protective equipment, are also exposed to these hazards when breaking beached ships.
In their joint report, T&E and Shipbreaking Platform state that EU-listed yards have had the capacity to handle all European ships broken since 2015.
“The shipowners’ capacity claims are a clear red herring,” says Ingvild Jenssen director of Shipbreaking Platform. “Alternatives to beaching end-of-life ships exist. It boils down to not accepting the low occupational safety and environmental protection standards that allow many unapproved yards to operate cheaply.”