The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, also known as the Hong Kong Convention, is set to enter into force on June 26, 2025. This comes after Bangladesh and Liberia deposited the instrument of accession with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on June 26, 2023, at IMO Headquarters in London.
The Hong Kong Convention requires three criteria to be met for it to enter into force: ratification by 15 states (maritime nations), representing 40% of the world’s merchant shipping by gross tonnage, and a combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of not less than 3% of their combined gross tonnage during the preceding 10 years. With Bangladesh and Liberia’s accession, these conditions have now been met.
The treaty aims to establish global standards for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling. It covers the entire lifecycle of a ship, from design to end-of-life disposal, and places responsibilities on shipowners, shipbuilding yards, ship recycling facilities, flag states, port states, and recycling states.
Upon entry into force, ships destined for recycling will be required to carry an inventory of hazardous materials. Authorized ship recycling facilities will need to provide a specific Ship Recycling Plan for each vessel, and governments will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Convention within their jurisdiction.
Bangladesh and India are significant ship recycling countries, while Liberia is one of the largest flag states by tonnage. Bangladesh’s accession was facilitated by an IMO-implemented project called Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh (SENSREC), supported by the government of Norway. Liberia’s accession to the Convention will enhance its regulatory framework as a prominent flag state.
India, another major ship recycling nation, acceded to the Hong Kong Convention in November 2019 and has enacted the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019, along with the Recycling of Ships Rules in February 2021. India’s ship recycling yards in Alang-Sosiya have taken steps to comply with the Convention’s requirements, resulting in improved infrastructure and the acquisition of HKC compliance certificates for many operational recycling plots.
The entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention is seen as a historical development for the international shipping industry, the marine environment, and workers and local communities involved in ship recycling worldwide.