ISL and the Evolution of Responsible Shipbreaking
International Shipbreaking LLC (ISL), based in Brownsville, Texas, stands at the forefront of metal recycling, specializing in recycling massive ships, including US Navy aircraft carriers and oil tankers. Established in 1995, the company’s primary aim was to provide recycling services to the US Navy, and over the years, it has earned a global reputation for its expertise in handling some of the world’s largest ships.
Under the leadership of Chris Green, President of ISL, the company has focused on continuous improvement and adhering to the highest standards. ISL’s efforts were particularly significant in 2014 when seven supercarriers were slated for recycling. The company invested substantially in infrastructure to safely secure and recycle five of these colossal vessels, marking a major achievement.
In 2018, ISL attained compliance with the EU Ship Recycling Regulations (EU SRR), the most stringent ship recycling regulation globally. This recognition placed ISL among the select few facilities outside the EU permitted to recycle ships flying EU member states’ flags. This accomplishment allowed ISL to offer major shipping companies traceability, accountability, and sustainability, aligning with the modern shipping industry’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies.
The process of recycling such massive ships involves meticulous planning and environmental assessments. Before bidding on a ship, ISL conducts an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) to identify waste materials present and calculate the cost of their secure removal and disposal. Subsequently, a Ship Recycling Plan is drafted, enabling the teams to evaluate each project stage and determine the most competitive price possible.
ISL utilizes advanced equipment to maximize the amount of material returned to the circular economy. The company continually reinvests its earnings to enhance operations. For instance, investments in cable recycling, such as installing a cable chopper, have significantly reduced landfill waste.
Unlike many shipbreaking firms, ISL prioritizes sustainable practices and safety. In various parts of the world, shipbreaking has historically been plagued by hazardous working conditions and environmental damage. Ships were often sent to shipbreaking beaches in Asia without adequate consideration for safety and environmental impact. ISL provides a viable alternative by meeting EU requirements and adhering to US Navy standards, creating a more sustainable global shipbreaking industry.
ISL’s partnership with EMR, a global leader in sustainable materials, has been instrumental in its success. Since 2010, ISL has benefited from EMR’s logistical support and strategic expertise, enabling the company to further enhance its operations.
Under Chris Green’s leadership, ISL aspires to become the most advanced shipbreaking operation globally. Through their dedication to sustainability, safety, and compliance with international regulations, ISL continues to lead the way in responsible ship recycling, ensuring a brighter and more sustainable future for the industry.
“Unlike a fridge or a vehicle, when you recycle a ship, you first need to make sure that you know what you are dealing with. We do an environmental assessment and Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) so that, before we even bid on a ship, we know which waste materials are present and the cost to secure, remove and safely dispose of them.
“After this is complete, we draft a Ship Recycling Plan which allows our teams to evaluate each stage of the project and calculate the most competitive price possible.”
Once work begins, ISL can call on some of the most advanced equipment anywhere in world to ensure that as much material as possible can find its way back into the circular economy. “We have reinvested almost every penny that we have made back into getting our operations to the next level,” says Chris. “This year we will be refurbishing the infrastructure that’s already here and investing in new equipment.