Maersk Sets Sights on Upgrading Alang Recycling Yards

Danish shipping and energy conglomerate Maersk Group wants to help ship recycling yards in Alang, India to upgrade facilities and practices to comply with the company’s standards as the group eyes cost reductions for its ship recycling.

Maersk said that with more vessels to recycle in the future the current cost of sustainable ship recycling “is not feasible.” Namely, according to the group, the estimated extra cost for Maersk of responsible recycling at existing yards is USD 1-2m for each vessel.

Over the past decades, Alang’s beaches have become a major hub for ship-recycling of global fleet, however; the working and safety practices at these yards are far below international requirements.

Out of the total 768 ships recycled globally in 2015, 469 – representing 74% of the total gross tonnage scrapped – were sold to facilities on beaches in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh with challenges to workers and the environment.

The Maersk Group’s policy is to only recycle ships responsibly. There has, however, been no change in practices in this area and today, responsible recycling is only feasible in a limited number of yards in China and Turkey,” says the Head of Sustainability in Maersk Group, Annette Stube.

Maersk said that steady improvements of conditions have been witnessed in ship recycling yards in Alang in the last couple of years, with a total of four yards in Alang now certified to the standards of the International Maritime Organisation and Hong Kong Convention.

Following several visits at upgraded beaching facilities in Alang in 2015, the Maersk Group concluded that responsible recycling can be accelerated in the area, if the engagement is made now.

“We want to play a role in ensuring that responsible recycling becomes a reality in Alang, India. To find sustainable solutions, we are working on building a broader coalition with other ship owners and have initiated engagement with a number of carefully selected yards in Alang. This includes improving local waste facilities and hospitals – and upgrading the housing conditions for the migrant workers in Alang,” says Stube.

Maersk said that it was engaging in the development of sustainable ship recycling on the long term and will in the coming years work directly with selected certified yards in Alang to further upgrade their facilities and practices.

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