The EU Ship Recycling Regulation (SRR) has been in force since December 2013 and aims to prevent accidents, injuries, and negative environmental effects related to the recycling of ships flying the flag of European Union countries. However, there are concerns about the current shortcomings of the regulation and the lack of approved and cost-effective recycling capacity to meet its requirements.
One of the main challenges is the inadequate capacity of approved recycling facilities, particularly for large sea-going vessels. Certain listed shipyards have constraints in terms of length and draft, and there is a lack of capacity due to the increasing construction, retrofitting, and recycling of other types of vessels. Moreover, the Basel Convention amendment in 2019 restricts EU-flagged vessels from being recycled at facilities in non-OECD countries, effectively excluding them from the EU list of approved facilities.
These challenges have led some ship owners to reflag their vessels and send them to recycling facilities in third-world countries like Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, which are not approved by the EU SRR. This circumvention of regulations raises environmental and safety concerns.
Cyprus, as the shipping deputy ministry, highlights the need for urgent development of the EU SRR into a robust, effective, and sustainable policy. They advocate for the establishment of a European list of approved facilities with adequate capacity that meets the requirements of the regulation. This list should include geographically balanced facilities capable of recycling large sea-going vessels, ensuring sufficient capacity reflective of the market.
Cyprus believes that EU Member States should take global responsibility by creating incentives and frameworks for sustainable recycling solutions in EU, OECD, and non-OECD countries. They propose ratification of the Hong Kong Convention, which supports the upgrade of recycling facilities in third-world countries. Additionally, Cyprus suggests that the EU should provide technical assistance and support to these countries to ensure compliant facilities and address the capacity issue.
The ongoing online public consultation on the evaluation of the EU SRR, launched by the European Commission, presents an important opportunity to review and improve the regulation. The goal is to achieve the original aims of the EU SRR by preventing accidents, injuries, and negative impacts on human health and the environment in relation to ship recycling within EU countries.