Ship Recycling : 325 Ships dismantled on beaches of South Asian Countries
The NGO Shipbreaking Platform has released a report detailing the dismantling of 325 ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units on beaches in Bangladesh, India, or Pakistan in 2023. These ships represent 85% of the 446 major vessels scrapped globally that year, with most originally owned by shipping companies in East Asia and Europe. This indicates a significant increase from the previous year when 292 out of 443 end-of-life ships were scrapped on these Asian beaches in 2022.
The report also highlights the human cost of this industry, with at least six workers losing their lives on the beaches of Chattogram, Bangladesh, in 2023, and another 19 suffering severe injuries.
According to the NGO, China leads the list of countries involved in ship dumping in 2023, with Hong Kong, UAE, Thailand, Greece, Russia, and South Korea following suit, each contributing to more than a dozen ships being beached.
Despite China’s efforts to clean up its own environment and improve citizens’ quality of life by banning the import of waste, its shipping industry continues to export its toxic waste to vulnerable communities and environments in South Asia. Chinese owners sold 71 vessels for scrapping in South Asia in 2023, 59 of which ended up on beaches in Bangladesh.
The NGO accuses ship owners of flouting environmental and labor laws, noting that middlemen scrap dealers often rename, re-register, and re-flag end-of-life ships to conceal their original ownership. Nearly half of the ships beached in 2023 had new flags only weeks before reaching the shore, with flags from countries like Cameroon, Comoros, Mongolia, Palau, St Kitts & Nevis, and Tanzania being particularly popular choices.
Ingvild Jenssen, the founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, emphasizes that dismantling ships on beaches is neither environmentally sustainable nor safe. She criticizes shipping companies for evading their responsibility to ensure that their toxic waste does not harm workers’ health and sensitive coastal environments.