Five European ship recycling yards announced yesterday that they have joined forces to effectively raise awareness of existing best practice and the fact that there is capacity in Europe to properly recycle ships. The newly established European Ship Recyclers Group (ESR), set up under the umbrella of the International Ship Recycling Association (ISRA), aims at reaching out to ship owners that are looking for clean and safe ship recycling. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform can only welcome this step and vows to support their efforts in attracting more business as long as they maintain sustainable practices.
The European Union approved 18 ship recycling facilities with a total capacity of 1.1 million LDT under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation in December last year. All 18 facilities are located within the EU and the newly established ESR represents five of these yards - from France (Port of Bordeaux), Belgium (Galloo), Denmark (Smedegaarden), the Netherlands (Scheepssloperij) and Spain (DDR). The European Commission is currently revising 18 additional applications from facilities located outside the EU. To make it on the EU list of approved facilities, yards need to prove that they are able to contain pollutants, ensure safe working conditions and the environmentally sound management of all wastes derived from the recycling activities. Facilities that operate on tidal beaches are not expected to make it on the EU list.
Whilst ship recycling facilities in Europe, as in the US and China, currently operate under-capacity because they are unable to compete with the higher prices offered by the beaching yards in South Asia, the EU list comes with a promise of raising the profile of yards that have already invested in infrastructure and technologies to ensure safe and clean practices.
Ship owners are regrettably quick in rejecting European recyclers under the false pretext that there is no capacity in Europe. European yards today primarily recycle government-owned and smaller vessels, but questioned by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform in 2013, almost all European yards expressed that a promise of an increased market share of the commercially owned vessels would prompt investments to enlarge their facilities, or use currently dormant locations, to enable the recycling of also the largest ships.
To effectively push ship owners towards using EU approved yards, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform is calling for an incentive that will help close the financial gap between dirty and dangerous shipbreaking and proper ship recycling. The shipping industry needs to internalise the environmental and human costs of shipbreaking. The recently proposed Ship Recycling Licence does exactly that  and received support from the European Economic and Social Committee that in October adopted an opinion calling for “a financial mechanism to end beaching”.
 For more details on why a Ship Recycling Licence is needed, click here.
 See also support for a financial incentive from trade union IndustriAll Europe and SEA Europe, the European Ships and Maritime Equipment Association.
 German and Greek ship owners topped the list of ship dumpers in 2016 sending respectively 97 and 104 vessels for dirty and dangerous scrapping on South Asian beaches. For more details, click here.