Tradewinds – Pressure point

(Written by Geoff Garfield)

19 February 2010 – Much of the global ship scrapping industry is very profitable and able to finance the upgrading of safety and environmental standards, says a leading campaign organization.

Grazia Cioci, policy advisor to the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking, pointed to the 16% profit being made in Bangladesh and 8% in India according to research by Denmark’s Litehauz on behalf of the World Bank.

Cioci says the recyclers are benefiting from high steel prices and low labour costs. Bangladeshi workers typically earn $1 a day, she says.

It is unlikely that yards in the Indian sub-continent will be forced to close if they have to raise standards, added Cioci. The Brussels-based NGO represents a coalition of environmental, labour and human rights groups.

Cioci highlighted the fact that the organization had proposed establishing a fund at international level to enable shipowners to make “responsible” choices when selling their vessels for dismantling and to assist environmentally sound recyclers to be competitive.

Pressure for such a policy was being applied in Europe where a feasibility study has been launched for a mandatory fund, a tax on owners, affecting ships sailing to European ports.

The NGO opposes the new Hong Kong ship recycling convention. Cioci says it fails to provide the correct solutions to the industry’s problems and is weaker than existing international environmental legislation such as the Basel Convention covering the transboundary movement of waste.