Sustainable Ship Recycling: A Call to Action for Global Stakeholders
In a significant stride towards environmentally responsible ship recycling practices, Pakistan recently joined the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC). Dr. Bev Mackenzie, Head of Intergovernmental Engagement at BIMCO, highlights that with major ship recycling nations such as Türkiye, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan now part of the HKC, which collectively handle about 95% of the world’s tonnage, it is crucial for stakeholders to come together and strategically plan for the future. This urgency was underscored at a recent BIMCO side event during COP 28, focusing on the challenges and opportunities in achieving global safe and environmentally sound ship recycling.
The roadmap outlined during the event emphasized the necessity for a clear and effective implementation direction. Various challenges were brought to the forefront, including issues related to legal frameworks, transparency, and circularity principles within shipbuilding. The overarching goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by carefully considering ship and steel recycling processes and promoting the use of recycled steel in shipbuilding.
Among the key challenges identified were the certification of green steel, the need for a globally consistent playing field through amendments to the HKC, the coexistence of the UN Environment Programme and HKC conventions for material traceability, and the alignment of terminology to prevent the downcycling of scrap steel. Furthermore, there was a call for integrating circularity principles into shipbuilding processes.
With all major recycling states being parties to the HKC, the enforcement of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) onboard ships is expected to strengthen HKC compliance. The roadmap also stressed the importance of reflection by EU Member States to address the legal complexities arising from the Basel BAN amendment and recent changes to EU regulations. A unified legal framework is deemed essential to provide legal certainty for ship recycling facilities and shipowners.
In summary, stakeholders are urged to take immediate action over the next eighteen months to confront challenges and establish a roadmap for achieving global safe and environmentally sound ship recycling by 2025. Shipowners are encouraged to utilize compliant facilities, while flag and port states must promptly ratify the HKC. Collaboration among UN bodies is essential to reach a consensus on a legal framework. The HKC, with its proven track record, has already made significant progress, and continued collaboration is imperative for further success. The following sections delve deeper into the challenges and opportunities discussed during the event.
Challenges and Opportunities: A Closer Look
1. Certification of Green Steel
One of the primary challenges highlighted is the certification of green steel. As the industry strives to adopt more sustainable practices, ensuring that recycled steel meets specific environmental standards becomes crucial. Establishing a universally recognized certification system for green steel is essential to instill confidence in shipbuilders and owners, promoting the use of environmentally friendly materials in ship construction.
2. Global Playing Field through HKC Amendments
While major ship recycling nations are now parties to the HKC, there is a recognized need for amendments to ensure a global playing field. Harmonizing regulations and standards across nations will prevent disparities that might hinder effective implementation. A collaborative effort to amend the HKC, taking into account the diverse needs and capacities of different nations, will contribute to a more cohesive and effective framework for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling.
3. Coexistence of UN Environment Programme and HKC Conventions
The coexistence of the UN Environment Programme and HKC conventions raises questions about material traceability. Ensuring seamless integration and coordination between these two entities is crucial for effective oversight and traceability of materials used in shipbuilding and recycling. Clear guidelines and mechanisms for cooperation between the UN Environment Programme and the HKC are necessary to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure comprehensive material tracking.
4. Aligning Terminology to Prevent Downcycling
Preventing the downcycling of scrap steel is a critical aspect of promoting circularity in ship recycling. Standardizing and aligning terminology across the industry is essential to avoid confusion and ensure that recycled materials maintain their quality and integrity throughout the process. A concerted effort to establish common terminology and definitions will contribute to the overall success of sustainable ship recycling practices.
5. Integration of Circularity Principles in Shipbuilding
To truly achieve environmentally sound ship recycling, circularity principles must be integrated into shipbuilding processes. This involves designing ships with an emphasis on easy dismantling, recycling, and reuse of materials. Shipbuilders need to adopt innovative designs that prioritize sustainability and align with circular economy principles. This shift in approach will not only facilitate the recycling process but also contribute to the long-term sustainability of the shipping industry.
Strengthening HKC Compliance: The Role of IHM
With all major ship recycling nations as parties to the HKC, the enforcement of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) onboard ships is expected to play a crucial role in strengthening compliance. The IHM serves as a comprehensive record of hazardous materials present in a ship, ensuring transparency and accountability throughout its lifecycle. By strictly enforcing IHM requirements, the HKC aims to enhance safety and environmental standards in ship recycling facilities.
Reflection by EU Member States: Addressing Legal Complexities
The roadmap presented at the BIMCO side event emphasizes the importance of reflection by EU Member States. The legal complexities stemming from the Basel BAN amendment and recent changes to EU regulations pose challenges that require careful consideration. A unified legal framework is essential to provide ship recycling facilities and shipowners with the legal certainty needed to navigate these complexities. EU Member States are urged to engage in collaborative efforts to streamline legal processes and facilitate smoother adherence to evolving regulations.
Call to Action: Urgency and Collaboration
In conclusion, the urgency for global stakeholders to take immediate action in addressing the challenges of safe and environmentally sound ship recycling is clear. The roadmap presented at the BIMCO side event serves as a comprehensive guide, highlighting key challenges and opportunities. Shipowners are called upon to make use of compliant facilities, while flag and port states are urged to swiftly ratify the HKC. Collaboration among UN bodies is essential to establish a unified legal framework that promotes sustainability and transparency in the ship recycling industry.
The HKC has already demonstrated significant progress in fostering responsible ship recycling practices. However, continued collaboration and concerted efforts are vital to ensure that the goals outlined in the roadmap are achieved by 2025. As the maritime industry navigates towards a more sustainable future, the commitment of all stakeholders – from shipbuilders to regulatory bodies – is indispensable in charting a course towards global safe and environmentally sound ship recycling.