China plans to stop allowing the recycling of international ships at its yards as of the beginning of 2019.
The decision comes on the back of China’s efforts to crack down on polluter and waste producing industries in the country, which have seen many yards denied their ship recycling licenses.
The Chinese-flagged ships will be allowed to continue to be dismantled at Chinese yards, however, the Government of China will no longer provide subsidies for the branch, as decided last year. Due to such a turn in policy, local owners are likely to look elsewhere to retire their ships, including India.
“In view of this, owners will have to succumb to the fact that, with the exception of Turkey, the H.K Convention approved recycling yards in Alang will have to be taken more seriously following the incredible improvements that have been made at these yards over many years and the fact that these yards now can only offer owners the only alternative at this current time for green recycling,” Clarksons Platou Shipbroking said.
Two years ago, industry leader Maersk committed to investing in Alang yards and boosting their operational standards to comply with the company’s requirements.
Chief Executive Officer of A.P. Møller – Mærsk A/S, Søren Skou, said recently that some yards in Alang, India, are performing at the same level or better than yards in China and Turkey, “which used to be the only options for economically viable and responsible ship recycling. “
Explaining its approach, Maersk said that the company helps the yards to upgrade their practices while contractually requiring full implementation of its standards controlled by on-site supervision throughout the process as well as quarterly audits by third parties.
Even though the situation is far from perfect, especially when it comes to health hazards at the shipbreaking yards in Alang, Maersk believes that helping the yards to improve their standards is an opportunity to change the industry for the better.
However, for a more sustainable progress to be made more shipowners need to become involved.
From a total of 206 ships, which were broken in the first quarter of 2018, 152 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for breaking, according to NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
Despite a considerable improvement made by some shipbreakers, a great majority of south Asian yards are notorious for their poor environmental and healthy and safety practices.
It is quite common for workers to suffer serious injuries or even get killed due to exposure to various types of risks ranging from falling objects to intoxication.
So far this year, 10 workers have lost their lives and 2 workers have been severely injured when breaking ships in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Another two workers were reported dead after an accident at a shipbreaking yard in Alang, India, data from NGO Shipbreaking Platform shows.
World Maritime News Staff