EU takes tough new stance on ship scrapping

Soon, new rules will require that EU-registered ships are only recycled at sustainable facilities, lowering the environmental and human cost of the current process of dismantling vessels on SA beaches
EU takes tough new stance on ship scrapping

The EU is set to ban owners from scrapping ships on South Asian beaches, according to news agency Reuters.

New European Union rules are to be put into place to ensure that EU-registered vessels are only recycled in sustainable facilities. 

According to statistics from the NGO Shipbreaking Platform of the 1,026 ships recycled in 2014, 641 were dismantled in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 

Reuters News Agency reports:

Tankers, cruise liners and other old vessels are rammed onto beaches and stripped down by hundreds of unskilled workers using simple tools such as blowtorches. Chemicals leak into the ocean when the tide comes in. 

There is also a human cost: the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai estimates that some 470 workers have died in the past 20 years in accidents in Alang-Sosiya, the world's largest stretch of ship-breaking beaches, in Gujarat. Some 35,000 mostly migrant and unskilled workers operate there."

A list of the sustainable facilities is expected to be published next year and may include yards in Europe, China, Turkey, and North America. 

South Asian facilities are generally favoured as they have fewer rules on dismantling, meaning profits are higher for those involved in the breakdown. 

To counteract this, the European Commission is trying to find ways to reward those ship owners who recycle at sustainable facilities. 

According to Reuters article, Indian shipyard owners see these new rules as just another way for the EU to fill the empty facilities in its own back yard. 

Fewer than 4 percent of all retired ocean-going ships passed through European facilities in 2014. Haiderali G. Meghani, director of International Steel Corporation, a large ship recycling firm based in Alang, said concerns about poor safety and environmental standards in India were misplaced. "We are almost near to European standards," he said.

The European rules have one big loophole: owners can change a ship's flag or sell it on to a third party outside Europe, who can then scrap it at a non-approved facility. But ship owners are likely to face harsh criticism if they resort to such practices under the new regime.


by Laura Stackhouse Editor

Laura Stackhouse is the Web Editor of, an official publication of the International Marine Purchasing Association (IMPA). To discuss news, features or contributing to please get in touch.

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