The issue of ship recycling has been on the international agenda for many years, as the dismantling of end-of-life ships in beaching facilities without adequate minimum standards raises environmental, safety and health concerns.
International Maritime Organization
The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmental Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC) was adopted on 15 May 2009 by an IMO Diplomatic Conference.
Key requirements of the HKC are:
- provision of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) for ships
- compliance of ship recycling facilities to the Convention's safety, health and environmental standards
- preparation of a Ship Recycling Plan for ships destined for recycling
- authorization of Ship Recycling facilities by the relevant Competent Authority
- reporting requirements for shipowners and recycling facilities
The convention shall enter into force 24 months after the following conditions are met:
- not less than 15 States have either signed it without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or approval, or have deposited the requisite instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession
- the combined merchant fleet of these States constitute not less than 40 % of the GT of the world's merchant fleet
- the combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of these States during the preceding 10 years constitutes not less than 3% of the GT of the combined merchant shipping of these States
It is difficult to predict its entry into force, but it is unlikely that the HKC will enter into force before 2015.
The following Guidelines have been developed and adopted at the IMO to assist the State Parties in the early implementation of the Convention’s technical standards:
- 2011 Guidelines for the Development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials, adopted by resolution MEPC.197(62);
- 2011 Guidelines for the Development of the Ship Recycling Plan, adopted by resolution MEPC.196(62);
- 2012 Guidelines for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling, adopted by resolution MEPC.210(63);
- 2012 Guidelines for the Authorization of Ship Recycling Facilities, adopted by resolution MEPC.211(63).
Following Guidelines have been developed and adopted at IMO to assist State Parties in the implementation of the Convention after it enters into force:
- 2012 Guidelines for the survey and certification of ships under the Hong Kong Convention, adopted by resolution MEPC.222(64);
- 2012 Guidelines for the inspection of ships under the Hong Kong Convention, adopted by resolution MEPC.223(64).
The EU already took several steps to the development of an EU-strategy on ship recycling, of which the EC Green Paper on better ship dismantling (May 2007), the EC Communication proposing an EU strategy for better ship dismantling (November 2008) and the Council Conclusions on an EU Strategy for better ship dismantling (October 2009) are to be considered as key elements.
EC Communication “An EU strategy for better ship dismantling”
This document describes the general objective of the EU strategy: “To ensure that ships with a strong link to the EU (flag and/or ownership) are dismantled only in safe and environmentally sound facilities worldwide, in line with the Ship Recycling Convention.”
In order to reach this objective, the EC proposed the following action areas and tools:
- Early implementation of the HKC, by transposing key elements into Community law;
- Clean dismantling of warships and other government vessels (which are outside the scope of the HKC): assess the option to include warships and other government vessels in the ship recycling measures for clean dismantling;
- Clearance regarding application and better enforcement of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR): According to the 2009 Council Conclusions, the EC should clear the relation between the HKC and the WSR by 2010 and prepare legislative proposals if appropriate. Clarification on this issue could be achieved by a combination of measures such as:
- guidance from the EC on the application of the WSR to end-of-life ships,
- increased multilateral cooperation and exchange of experiences/best practices within the EU;
- Encouraging voluntary industry interim measures: during the interim period (before entry into force of the HKC) voluntary action by the shipping industry is particularly welcomed, as: it is the simplest and quickest way to change practices; the financial burden for shipowners would not be excessive; it falls within the principles of producer responsibility and “polluter pays”.
Environmental Council conclusions
The Environment Council meeting of the 21 October 2009 concluded that:
- the safe and environmentally sound management of ship recycling is a priority for the EU
- EU implementation should focus on early ratification of the HKC by Member States, interim measures (incl. guidance to Member States and voluntary action by stakeholders) and additional EU-specific legislation
- the Commission should clarify the relation between the HKC and the WSR by 2010 and, if appropriate, prepare legislative proposals to solve this matter
- cooperation between international organizations, recycling countries and other stakeholders should be increased, with active support regarding projects to upgrade facilities and implementation of the HKC by recycling countries
In 2010 the European Commission adopted a Communication on the Assessment of the link between the IMO Hong Kong Convention, the Basel Convention and the EU Waste Shipment Regulation.
In 2012 the European Commission published a Proposal for the Regulation on Ship Recycling (COM/2012/0118 final).
Role of EMSA
The Agency has been involved in the process since March 2006, following a request from the EC (DG ENV) to provide technical assistance on the issue of ship recycling.
EMSA has participated in international meetings, inter alia in IMO meetings (MEPC, ship recycling Working Groups, Hong Kong Diplomatic Conference), Basel Convention meetings, international conferences on ship recycling, etc. and coordinates the EC's submissions to the IMO Correspondence Group.
The Agency commissioned a study (finalised in September 2008), which provided a model of an integrated management system (IMS) for the certification of ship recycling facilities addressing safety, health and environmental issues.
EMSA also organised workshops in its premises in Lisbon, in order to:
- stimulate an exchange of views among experts on current developments with regard to ship dismantling and as such to improve the level of information on current practices and solutions at EU level;
- provide a platform for discussion in view of the relevant international meetings related to the Convention on the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.