After the Danish shipping giant Maersk Group said it would scrap more vessels in the coming years, the company’s plan to avoid European environmental law on ship recycling by flagging ships to non-EU flags was described as “undermining its credibility as a responsible ship operator” by the environmental organisation Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC).
As it would need to scrap more vessels due to an oversupply and low freight rates in the container market, the shipping company estimated that it could earn an additional USD 1-2 million per ship by using beaching yards in Alang, India.
“Maersk is a European company and should abide by European laws. Suggesting that it might use a flag of convenience to escape EU ship breaking rules designed to protect the environment and worker safety is scandalous, and will seriously undermine its credibility as a responsible ship owner and operator,” John Maggs, senior policy advisor at Seas At Risk and president of the Clean Shipping Coalition, said.
Until recently, Maersk followed a progressive policy on ship recycling, including a ‘cradle to grave’ approach which committed to ‘total vessel recycling,’ Clean Shipping Coalition said, adding that the company’s decision to resort to the low-cost method of beaching and to flagging out its ships beforehand undermines not only the company’s position as a responsible industry leader, but also European efforts to improve global conditions.
“While Maersk supports innovation in reducing air polluting emissions, this move shows a cavalier attitude towards the environmental impacts of dismantling ships in the intertidal zone. Maersk needs to reverse course on practices that it previously denounced and that would never be allowed in Europe,” Sotiris Raptis, shipping officer at Transport & Environment, said.
In mid-May, the company sent two of its container ships, the Maersk Wyoming and the Maersk Georgia, to India’s Shree Ram yard in Alang for recycling.
The company said that it reached a deal for the landing of the first two vessels at the yard, which is certified to the standards of the Hong Kong Convention.
The move follows Maersk Group’s announcement of its long-term commitment to create more responsible recycling options in Alang, India, as well as help the ship recycling yard to upgrade facilities and practices to comply with the company’s standards as the group eyes cost reductions for its ship recycling.