The International Ship Recycling Association (ISRA) has released a press statement expressing its appreciation for Bangladesh and Liberia’s recent ratification of the Hong Kong Convention (HKC), which was adopted in 2009. This ratification means that the criteria for the convention to enter into force in June 2025 have now been met.
While ISRA welcomes these new developments, it remains concerned about the effectiveness of the HKC regime, which has struggled to motivate substandard recycling practices to improve their standards over the past decade. The majority of the world’s fleet continues to end up at substandard facilities in South Asia, posing risks to both the authorities involved and other stakeholders responsible for ensuring safe and proper ship recycling.
In addition, many NGOs expressed their skepticism regarding the effectiveness of the Hong Kong Convention earlier this month, and experts from Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) questioned what the global framework for ship recycling will look like from 2025.
Dr. Konstantinos Galanis, Chairman of ISRA, commented on these developments and urged the ship recycling industry and legislators to use the next two years to further adjust the HKC regime. He emphasized that this long journey, which began 14 years ago with the adoption of the convention, is far from complete. It is crucial to continue working towards a strict, internationally controlled, and enforced regime that sets the necessary standards for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling.
The Hong Kong Convention aims to ensure that ships, when recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose unnecessary risks to human health, safety, and the environment. It covers the design, construction, operation, and preparation of ships to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling without compromising safety and operational efficiency. The convention also addresses the operation of ship recycling facilities, calling for safe and environmentally sound practices, and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, including certification and reporting requirements. Once it comes into force, ships to be recycled will be required to carry an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) specific to each vessel.
The European Ship Recycling Regulation (EUSRR) has been enforced since November 20, 2013. EUSRR takes a holistic approach that includes downstream waste management and has a sufficient number of approved ship recycling facilities as members. These facilities undergo audits and inspections not only by EU member states but also by experts in safety, hazardous waste management, and the environment, such as DNV (an IACS member). ISRA believes that all stakeholders must make timely efforts to level the playing field, as the majority of the global fleet still ends up in substandard facilities, particularly in South Asia.