“More than 1,000 large commercial vessels were dismantled in 2014 around the world – bulkers, cargo and container ships, tankers and passenger ships. Most of these ships were owned by companies based in Europe – such as Greece, Germany or Norway– or in the East Asian shipping hubs, first and foremost China, South Korea, Japan and Singapore. In terms of tonnage, 74% of the old vessels were dismantled in the shipbreaking yards on the beaches in South Asia. Only a few shipowning companies made a conscious choice to sell to a modern ship recycling facility, to voluntarily set themselves high standards for cleanand safe recycling, and to monitor the recycling process until the end to ensure that their ship was dismantled properly.
Ship owners sell vessels due to the overcapacity of commercial ships around the world and unprofitable market conditions for certain types of vessels. They mostly look for the highest price without considering the negative impacts for workers, local communities, and the environment. Asking the maximum price means selling the ship to substandard yards on the South Asian subcontinent. Clean and safe recycling involves higher costs for infrastructure investments, hazardous waste removal and disposal, as well as measures for environmental protection and workers’ health and safety. Sadly, most ship owners are not yet willing to take account of these costs.
Hazardous wastes in the end-of-life vessels are not properly removed and disposed of in the shipbreaking countries: large quantities are still dumped without the necessary precautions or are even resold. The shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh and Pakistan does not have any hazardous waste management system, that is, there is no landfill for the safe disposal of asbestos or treatment facilities for materials containing heavy metals or waste oils. In India, asbestos-containing materials can be re-sold and none of the three countries have a PCB destruction facility.”