Sustainable Shipping – European Parliament revises ship scrapping plans

(Written by Adam Currie)

27 March 2013 - Plans to clean up the scrapping of old ships and ensure the materials are recycled in European Union-approved facilities worldwide were revised by the Environment Committee on Tuesday.

According to a statement by the European Commission, Member of the European Parliament (MEPs) proposed that the scheme be funded by a recycling levy, in line with the “polluter pays” principle.

It noted that both EU and non-EU ships should be able to use the fund, which would be financed, in line with the “polluter pays” principle, by a recycling levy to be charged for any port call by EU or non-EU ships. Ship owners could choose between an annual recycling levy, directly payable to the fund, and a fee per port call, which would be collected by port authorities. Ships would be exempted from paying the recycling levy if their owners have deposited a financial guarantee to ensure that they use EU-listed facilities for recycling and treatment. Charging the levy on port calls would make it impossible to evade by “outflagging”, i.e. re-registering a ship outside the EU.

They added that owners of EU ships would also face penalties if they sold them for scrapping on a beach in developing countries.

The draft regulation aims to reduce the adverse effects of careless scrapping, such as accidents, injuries or damage to human health or the environment, by ensuring that EU ships, and non-EU ships that have called regularly at EU ports, are scrapped in EU-approved facilities worldwide. An EU fund, to be financed by levies on all ships visiting EU ports, would make scrapping ships in EU-approved facilities competitive.

“Today’s vote will hopefully put an end to EU ships being recklessly scrapped in developing countries. Currently, most EU ships are sent to South-East Asia at the end of their lives, where they are beached and their hazardous materials harm human health and the environment,” said Carl Schlyter, who is steering the legislation through Parliament.

“MEPs have today voted by a very large majority to create financial incentives to scrap ships safely, including a recycling fund financed by the industry itself. This would steer ships that trade with the EU into proper ship recycling facilities. We hope that this will now be included in the final legislation,” he added.

The law would apply to EU ships, but some of its provisions, including the recycling levy, would also apply to any ship calling at a port or anchorage of an EU member state.

It added that Member states would be required to ensure that an inventory of hazardous materials is established on board each EU ship. Non-EU ships entering a port or an anchorage of a member state would also have to have a hazardous materials inventory on board. If an inspection showed that the condition of ship does not comply with the inventory, penalties could be imposed.

While parliament will vote at a forthcoming plenary session on a mandate for negotiations with EU ministers, the committee’s vote provoked strong reactions from shipowners and environmentalists.