Recycling International – Basel vote tightens rules on hazardous waste in end-of-life ships

24 October 2011 – Delegates told the meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, that they feared current controls on hazardous waste management might be relaxed under the International Maritime Organization’s rival Hong Kong Convention (HKC).

Legal experts and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) joined developing nations in expressing concern that the HKC, adopted in 2009 but not as yet ratified by any country, would allow the export of asbestos, PCBs, residue oils and heavy metals to countries and communities ill-equipped to handle them. A particular aspect of the HKC that worries environmental groups is that it will allow recycling of ships on tidal beaches in the developing world.

‘The Hong Kong Convention is radically different from the Basel Convention as it puts the costs and liabilities of waste management on the importing state and not the polluter – who in this case is the ship owner,’ said Ingvild Jenssen, Director of the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking.