With close to 70% of all vessels being recycled in South Asia, the shipbreaking yards in Alang, India are one of the most important centers for ship recycling, therefore responsible practices at the site should be encouraged rather than dismissed, according to the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA).
At European level, the EU Ship Recycling Regulation could prove to be a game-changer as the EU list for recycling yards could be the ‘carrot’ that enables a fundamental change in the way recycling is carried out globally, ECSA said.
“Unfortunately, the signals sent from the European Commission are all but encouraging,” ECSA Secretary General, Patrick Verhoeven, said.
He added that the guidelines on which recycling yards have to base their application do not differentiate between hazardous and non-hazardous waste which de facto excludes all yards in India, even the most advanced ones.
“The EU now stands at a very important crossroad as regards responsible ship recycling. It can either be an enabler of development and reward pioneering Indian yards by giving them a fair chance to be on the EU list or it can confirm the view of many EU-skeptics and completely ignore important global developments,” ECSA noted.
Following a study trip to Alang, India, ECSA said that it witnessed the “investments made in a number of ship recycling yards to ensure compliance with the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.”
Namely, the investments have been made to place concrete flooring, effective drainage systems, appropriate downstream management and more decent housing.
“Alang and other places in South Asia have for years been criticised for poor standards – and rightly so, but, a positive development has begun and this should be supported not undermined,” ECSA President, Niels Smedegaard, said, adding that, while there are yards where improvements are necessary, others have already taken the lead in changing their recycling practices to reflect advanced modern standards.