Waste Management World – EU Ship Recycling Levy Proposals

(Written by Ben Messenger)             

27 March 2013 - EU ship owners could face penalties for scrapping vessels in the developing world under revised proposals by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee for a ship recycling scheme funded by a recycling levy.

According to MEPs the plans would clean up the scrapping of old ships and ensure the materials are recycled in EU-approved facilities in-line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

The EU Parliament explained that 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.

The Parliament went on to claim that the 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,” said Carl Schlyter (Greens/EFA, SE) who is steering the legislation through Parliament.

“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,” 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.

Hazardous materials

Under the proposals, 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.

Polluter pays

According to the committee, to help make the scheme economically viable, a recycling fund should be set up. 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.

The scheme would see ship owners choosing between an annual recycling levy, directly payable to the fund, and a fee per port call, which would be collected by port authorities.

However, ships could be exempted from paying the recycling levy if their owners had deposited a financial guarantee to ensure that they use EU-listed facilities for recycling and treatment.

The committed said that charging the levy on port calls would make it impossible to evade by ‘outflagging’, i.e. re-registering a ship outside the EU.

Penalties would be imposed on owners of EU ships that are sold and within twelve months of the sale sent for recycling on a beach or in a facility not on the EU list.

Parliament as a whole will vote at a forthcoming plenary session on a mandate for negotiations with EU ministers.