Recycling International – End-of-life ships: ‘worst global dumpers’ revealed

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9 February 2015 - Asia: Out of a total of 1026 ships dismantled globally last year, 74% of the gross tonnage – or some 641 vessels – were sold to ‘sub-standard facilities’ in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, according to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. The organisation has released a list of what it describes as the ‘worst global dumpers’ whose ships are dismantled directly on tidal beaches and are therefore ‘polluting the Indian sub-continent’.

German ship owner Ernst Komrowski tops the list of ‘dumpers’ with 14 end-of-life vessels sold to the beaching yards. All of these were formerly part of the Maersk fleet and had been on a long-term charter with the Danish container ship giant which, in contrast to Komrowski, follows a strict recycling policy for its own vessels.

In second place is South Korea’s largest container ship owner Hanjin Shipping with 11 ships while third is Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Company – the second-largest container ship operator in the world. ‘South Asia is still the preferred dumping ground for most ship owners as environmental, safety and labour rights standards are poorly enforced there,’ comments Patrizia Heidegger, executive director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

‘Ship owners sell their ships to the beaching yards for considerably greater profit than the price they could obtain by co-operating with modern ship recycling facilities.’ It is ‘shameful’ for the shipping industry that so many owners choose to ‘close their eyes’ to on-the-ground realities in South Asia, argues Heidegger.

‘Teekay and Hapag-Lloyd’s decision last year to adopt responsible ship recycling policies shows that ship owners can make alternative choices,’ she adds. ‘It is time for the global leaders in shipping to commit to clean and safe ship recycling. Instead of selling to intermediaries and losing leverage on the fate of their vessel, ship owners can talk to ship recycling experts and negotiate directly with modern ship recycling facilities.’