Platform News – SAVE THE DATE: “The Circular Economy” on 13 October 2016 in Brussels

The Circular Economy will be high up on the agenda of an event organised by the European Parliament’s S&D Group on Thursday 13 October 2016. The Platform’s Executive Director is speaking on a panel addressing innovations in recycling of cars, aeroplanes and ships.


At the event, Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella will present the state-of-play on the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy, while rapporteur Simona Bonafé will comment on the discussions taking place in the European Parliament on the waste package. Linkages to the energy and climate agenda, the impact on jobs and investment, as well as the importance of R&D and innovation will be addressed by a number of speakers during the morning session. In the afternoon, the experts will explore the potential of eco-design, reuse and remanufacturing and ways to close the loop for different transport modes.


The NGO Shipbreaking Platform will present solutions to the problems of today’s dirty and dangerous shipbreaking practices during the afternoon session. A circular economy strives at zero pollution and zero waste. Compared to cars and aviation, the shipping industry is a real laggard: ships are still being built with hazardous materials; they burn low-quality residual fuels that contain high amounts of black carbon, sulphur, ash and heavy metals; ship paints that are in direct contact with the eco system are still toxic; ship borne wastes continue to be dumped into the ocean; and last but not least, the vast majority of large commercial end-of-life vessels continue to be ramped up on intertidal beaches for breaking under extremely dangerous conditions for the workers and without containment of the pollutants.

"When it comes to recycling, it is so obvious that the shipping industry is still clinging on the old, linear model of ‘take, make, use, dump’. No need to say that ship recycling as such is a highly sustainable and necessary practice for a circular economy; however, the shipping industry is guided by the maximum profit it can obtain when selling their old tonnage to shipbreaking yards on the beaches of South Asia. State-of-the-art ship recycling aiming at zero waste, zero pollution and 100% sustainability is already available – we only need the right incentives to push ship owners towards these yards. This is why the Platform advocates for a strong legal framework without the loopholes created by non-compliant flags of convenience and where accountability clearly lies with the shipping industry."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Click here to view the full program of our event.


Platform News – Legambiente joins Platform’s campaign for sustainable ship recycling

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform welcomes onboard Legambiente, its first-ever Italian member organization.


Legambiente is a non-profit association created in 1980 for the safeguard of the environment and for the promotion of sustainable lifestyles, production systems and use of resources. It is the most widespread environmental organization in Italy with over 115.000 members and over 2 million people involved in volunteer activities and campaigns. Legambiente's strength is based on the work of 1.500 local groups and coordinated through 20 regional committees and a national headquarter in Rome.

"We strongly believe that our commitment to protect the marine environment perfectly fits with the aim of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform with whom we share the same objectives. Ship owners have a particular responsibility to make sure that their ships are dismantled in a sustainable way. Nevertheless, Italian-owned commercial vessels keep being broken on South Asian beaches, polluting the environment and putting at risk workers’ safety. It is our goal to stop the shameful practice of beaching and to advocate for truly safe and environmentally sound ship recycling, involving citizens and the industry sector in Italy."
Sebastiano Venneri - Marine Conservation Officer - Legambiente

The demolition of ships is a hazardous endeavor that requires adequate measures to protect the maritime environment, to ensure environmentally safe and sound management of hazardous waste, and to guarantee high health and safety standards for workers. Yet only a fraction of decommissioned ships is handled in a safe and sustainable manner. More than 70% of the end-of-life ships sold for dismantling today end up in South Asia, the region that has served as the main destination for obsolete tonnage in the last decades. The end-of-life vessels are run up on the tidal shores of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, where they are dismantled mainly manually by a migrant work force. The beaching method is at the source of coastal pollution and dangerous working conditions, while modern ship recycling facilities remain unused for the sole purpose of maximizing profits for the shipping industry. In the last seven years, around 90 Italian-owned ships have been dismantled on South Asian beaches. The export of end-of-life vessels from Europe to developing countries is illegal under European environmental law.

"The Platform is excited to join hands with Legambiente and to raise concerns related to unsustainable shipbreaking practices in Italy together. Dirty and dangerous shipbreaking has not yet received the necessary attention in Italy, and Italian ship owners are yet to pledge and implement clean and safe ship recycling policies."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform
© Andreas Ragnarsson -



Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #10

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform publishes today the tenth South Asia Quarterly Update, a briefing paper in which it informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of vessels broken on the beaches of South Asia, accidents, recent on-the-ground, legislative and political developments including our activities in South Asia we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights.


In this edition you will find out more about a dramatic surge of fatal accidents in the Bangladesh shipbreaking yards in May-June and the case study of young worker Mominul who was crippled while breaking European ships, our follow up of the Kabir Steel case with businesses in the yard's value chain as well as the UN Special Rapporteur's critique of German shipbreaking practices in substandard beaching yards. Last but not least, read our reaction to ECSA's so-called fact-finding report on their visit to the Alang shipbreaking yards.


Platform News – ECSA’s Alang report turns a blind eye on problems of beaching method

The European Community Shipowners’ Association’s (ECSA) has published a report on their visit to the Alang shipbreaking yards in India last April. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform criticises the report for ignoring the many grave shortcomings of the beaching method, including its inability to ensure containment of pollutants and to guarantee occupational safety, and for simply echoing the yard owners' one-sided account of working and living conditions in Alang.

"This is not the report of a fact-finding mission, but a promotion brochure for the Indian beaching yards. There are no solutions provided to the serious concerns we have raised with ECSA, and no demands for improvement. The true intent is to gain support for the most convenient solution for ship owners: the continuation of the low-cost method of beaching that allows for maximum profit for shipping lines."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The damaging environmental impacts of breaking ships in the intertidal zone of a beach are well known: slag, toxic paint particles and debris including metal scrap and plastics are released into the environment when the ship is torched and large metal pieces are simply dropped onto the sand or into the sea. Alarming levels of air, water and soil contamination at beaching yards are well documented [1].


Whilst some yards in Alang have cemented the areas where they conduct secondary cutting, all yards in Alang conduct the primary cutting of the ship in the intertidal zone. ECSA argues that pollution in the intertidal zone can be controlled by only letting ‘clean’ blocks fall into the sea or onto the beach. ECSA cannot, however, explain how blocks are actually 'cleaned' and where the chemicals necessary in this process end up. The contamination by toxic anti-fouling paints that are accumulated in the sediments is completely ignored by ECSA, as are the difficulties of preventing and remediating oil spills in the intertidal zone.


Instead, ECSA heavily relies on the Statements of Compliance (SoC) with the Hong Kong Convention which have been issued by consultants to some of the yards in Alang, including by the classification societies ClassNK and RINA in their private capacity, in order to claim that beaching practices are sound.  These SoCs, however, only look at procedures and not the actual performance of the yards. Environmental monitoring is required by Indian law and whilst most yards in Alang may conduct such monitoring – and thus tick a box in the checklist for the SoC – astonishingly, the findings of the local companies hired by the yards to conduct the samplings have hardly found any contamination, if at all. Apart from such meaningless monitoring of environmental impacts, ECSA also easily refers to the environmental monitoring of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB). The data available on the GPCB’s website is, however, far from detailed and several years old.

The ship owners’ association is also very gullible when it comes to assessing downstream waste management in Alang. Even though the association knows that Indian law allows for the resale of asbestos-containing material and that there is no incinerator for PCBs in India, ECSA simply trusts that the yard owners will ensure environmentally sound waste management on a voluntary basis, even if this creates higher costs for the yards.


Likewise, ECSA’s account of the social welfare system that yard owners have reportedly “voluntarily” put in place raises concerns. First and foremost, workers in India have a legal right to most of the mentioned benefits. Second, ECSA has not checked whether informal migrant workers, who make up the large majority of Alang workers, actually benefit from social welfare. A report from the renowned Tata Institute for Social Science reported dire working conditions in Alang, including the lack of contracts, pension schemes and insurance. Most workers in Alang do not have access to decent accommodation but live in makeshift shacks. The yard owners have been promising for many years that accommodation blocks will be set up; however, the large majority of workers currently remain in roadside slums while proper housing is only slowly being built for a small number of the total workforce.


Instead of consulting the trade unions or researchers who have looked into these important questions, ECSA blindly trusts the yard owners who misleadingly portray obligations they actually have as employers under Indian law anyway as laudable corporate social responsibility. And, while ECSA praises the 'willingness and openness of the Indian yard owners to receive the delegation', Indian and international NGOs were excluded from participating to the visit and ECSA did not deem it necessary to meet with trade unions and workers themselves.

"It is particularity cynical when ECSA reports that the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) - a Government body that actively keeps NGOs and other critical voices outside the yards - was ‘liaising with numerous social and environmental NGOs’: GMB does not even answer an email when we request a copy of the accident statistics which they have to keep, and does not have a meaningful exchange with any of the civil society organisations that have been working on the issue for many years."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Shipbreaking is a heavy industry with a high risk of accident. Though ECSA found that there is only a rudimentary first aid centre in Alang and no functional hospital in the close vicinity, the ship owners’ association does not demand an immediate remedy to the unacceptable situation. The GMB’s accident statistics that it shared with ECSA show that between May 2015 and January 2016 at least 5 workers were killed in the yards. During this period the local steel market was very weak and many Alang yards were forced to close. The workforce was at that time reported to have been reduced to less than 5.000 workers. The accident rate is thus alarmingly high, notwithstanding that the GMB statistics do not include severe injuries and maimed workers. The many toxic materials found within the ship structure pose further serious health risks to the workers, and while ECSA reports that there are medical check-ups for workers in Alang, it is doubtful whether specific tests such as for heavy metal poising are conducted and that occupational diseases are properly detected and reported.


"EU law-makers who have sought to regulate the substandard practices of European ship owners, by disapproving the beaching method, have been accused by ECSA of being ‘neo-colonial’. While the regulation of transnational business is actually a way to curb post-colonial exploitation structures perpetuated by European businesses, what is truly neo-colonial is ECSA's acceptance of lower environmental, health and safety standards for people and the environment in India. If European ship owners really want to be a driving force for sustainable development in India then why do they not ensure investment in and knowledge transfer for state-of-the-art ship recycling off the beach?"
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform
Leela yard_HKC ClassNK certified (©ECSA – 29.04.2016)

Press Release – European Commission report recommends the introduction of a Ship Recycling License

Ships regardless of their flag should not be allowed to call at any EU port without a ship recycling license to incentivise sustainable ship recycling, a European Commission report recommends.


The report written by Ecorys, classification society DNV-GL and the Erasmus University School of Law and published yesterday, looks into the possibility of introducing a financial incentive to enhance safe and environmentally sound ship recycling [1]. Ship recycling license fees would be earmarked to cover the cost-gap between substandard and sustainable end-of-life ship management. The capital amount accumulated during the operational life of the vessel would be set aside for the ship and only paid back to the last owner of the vessel as a premium if the ship is recycled in a sustainable facility approved by the EU.

"We call on the European Commission to follow-up this report with a legislative proposal. The effective implementation of European environmental policies has been dependent on making the 'polluter pay'. If the EU is serious about its commitment to sustainable ship recycling, all ship owners trading in Europe need to be held financially liable/"
Stephane Arditi - Products & Waste Policy Manager - European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

The 2013 EU Ship Recycling Regulation requires all vessels sailing under an EU flag to use an approved ship recycling facility [2]. A major shortcoming of the Regulation, however, is that shipowners can circumvent the law by simply flagging out to a non-EU flag. At end-of-life, cash-buyers act as intermediaries and sell the vessels to substandard yards in South Asia often using flags of convenience which are grey- or black-listed by European governments under the Paris Memorandum of Understanding. Last year, Bangladesh, where human rights abuses and pollution caused by shipbreaking activities are known to be the worst, was the preferred destination for end-of-life ships. EU owners account for around one third of the end-of-life tonnage beached in substandard yards in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Thus, the EU is the single largest market sending end-of-life ships for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking and has a particular responsibility to regulate ship recycling [3].

"EU shipping companies should not circumvent EU environmental laws and not utilise practices that would never be allowed in Europe. EU flag-neutral measures which apply equally to all ships calling at EU ports are necessary to increase environmental protection."
Sotiris Raptis - Shipping and Aviation Officer - Transport and Environment

European ports are not opposing the ‘ship recycling license’ [4] and SeaEurope, Europe's ship yard and maritime equipment association, has expressed enthusiasm towards ensuring better implementation of the Ship Recycling Regulation - last month they called for support to enhance ship recycling capacity and R&D towards more cost effective solutions in Europe [5].


"The upcoming EU list of approved ship recycling facilities will function as an important market differentiator for yards that have already invested in proper occupational health & safety and environmental standards. The use of the EU listed facilities will however depend on the introduction of an effective financial incentive that forces irresponsible shipowners towards better practices."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform




[1] Article 29 of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation asks the European Commission to submit a report on the feasibility of a financial instrument that would facilitate safe and sound ship recycling, and to accompany this report by a legislative proposal if deemed appropriate. For Regulation text see For the report on a possible financial incentive see:


[2] A list of approved ship recycling facilities globally will be published by the end of 2016.


[3] Approximately 40% of the world fleet is controlled by owners based in the EU+EFTA, only 17% of the world fleet, however, sails under an EU+EFTA flag. The vast majority of EU-owned ships are sailing under the flags of states such as Panama, Liberia and the Marshall Islands during operational life. The percentage of EU flags drops to less than 8% at end-of-life.


[4] An earlier proposal for a 'ship recycling fund' was narrowly rejected by the European Parliament in 2013 with industry stakeholders, including the shipping industry and ports, strongly opposing the fund at the time. Whilst ship owners remain unwilling to bear the cost of sustainable recycling, both the public and private European port associations – ESPO and Feport – have now expressed that they are satisfied with the new license proposal. The license scheme will not be administered by the ports. It is also time-based, with the option of a monthly or yearly license, rather than based on the collection of a fee at each individual port call.

[5] See press release from 11 May 2016:

For more information see our “What a difference a flag makes” report on why ship owners need to be held accountable for sustainable ship recycling beyond flag state jurisdiction.



Platform News – Surge of fatal accidents in Chittagong

10 shipbreaking workers killed or severely injured in one month only


At least five shipbreaking workers have been killed and five more severely injured in a series of fatal accidents in Bangladesh in one month only. On 23 May, 21-year old Rubel died at Seiko Steel shipbreaking yard when he fell from great heights. He was working without safety equipment. Only six days later, on 29 May, 5 workers were struck by falling steel plates at the same yard which is also referred to as Darussalam or Madina Enterprise. One worker died on the spot, another in hospital. The three remaining workers were severely injured. In a third accident on 5 June at Laskar Shipbreaking, 35-year old Babul was crushed by a falling steel plate. On 19 June, two workers fell victim to a cylinder blast at Bhatiary Steel shipbreaking yard. One of the workers, Swapan, died in hospital three days later, while Mayching suffers from severe burn wounds in his face and upper body. He is struggling for his life. On 23 June, Samesh suffered severe injuries from a fall at Kabir Steel, a yard that was in the headlines in April after Kabir’s private security personnel shot at workers and locals protesting a fatal accident.

"This horrific series of accidents shows that occupational health and safety measures are absent. We are witnessing the same accidents again and again: workers are not equipped with safety harnesses and fall to their death. Others are crushed under heavy steel parts as a consequence of the dangerous gravity method by which cut steel sections are simply dropped into the sea and on the beach. Gas cylinders cannot be handled safely on the beach and explosions cause death and terrible burn wounds. As long as ships are scrapped on the beaches, workers will continue to die."
Muhammed Ali Shahin - Bangladesh Coordinator - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

As documented by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform before, European-owned vessels are often involved in these accidents. The two accidents at Seiko Steel occurred while the workers dismantled the German-owned vessel Renate N. (IMO 9006851). The demolition of the ship, whose last beneficial owner was the Hamburg-based Neu Seeschifffahrt, cost the life of three workers, and severely injured three additional workers. German shipping companies, except for industry leader Hapag Lloyd, are known to show little interest in the negative environmental and social impact of their shipbreaking practices. They simply sell their end-of-life vessels to beaching yards, including the worst in Bangladesh, with the help of cash buyers.


Recently, representatives of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which is implementing a NORAD-funded project in Bangladesh to improve conditions in the shipbreaking yards, presented their work on assessing the social and economic impacts of the industry in Chittagong. Bangladesh members of the Platform assisted the presentation and are concerned that human rights abuses and pollution caused by the shipbreaking industry will be side-lined in the NORAD-funded study.

"Figures on GDP contribution, tax income and the amount of scrap steel imported through shipbreaking have always been used to legitimise this industry in Bangladesh. What is urgently needed is an honest cost-benefit analysis bringing environmental and human costs of beaching into the equation. What benefit remains once we deduct the costs for massive coastal pollution, the threatened livelihoods of local fisher folk, the accumulation of millions of tons of hazardous waste over decades, dead workers whose families are thrown back into extreme poverty, crippled young men without a future, occupational diseases, and illegal child labour keeping young workers out of school while exposing them so severe health risk?"
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The series of fatal accidents have sparked local resistance. On 10 June, the Shipbreaking Workers Trade Union Forum together with the Bangladesh Institute for Labour Studies (BILS) organised a human chain in Sitakunda, the shipbreaking area, to protest the recent deaths. BILS and the trade unionists met with the victims’ families and visited the graves of workers recently killed in shipbreaking. The Shipbreaking Workers Trade Union Forum also handed over a letter to the president of the Bangladesh Shipbreakers Association (BSBA) demanding proper investigation and the payment of compensation owed to the families of dead workers and those workers who suffered from injuries.


The Platform calls on the Government of Bangladesh to investigate these accidents and to sanction yards with regular fatal and severe accidents, such as Kabir Steel and Seiko Steel. Moreover, the Platform demands that European ship owners stop selling their end-of-life vessels to the beaching yards of Bangladesh. It is not acceptable to turn a blind eye on the precarious situation for the sake of maximum profit – European ship owners are fully aware of the dire conditions in Chittagong and more sustainable alternatives to the beaching method exist.


© BILS – Trade unionists visit grave of killed worker



Platform News – Clean Shipping Coalition: Maersk undermines its reputation with plan to circumvent ship recycling law

The Clean Shipping Coalition criticises container ship giant Maersk for its statement that is considers to flag out end-of-life vessels from the Danish or other European registries in order to circumvent the European Ship Recycling Regulation. The Clean Shipping Coalition, a global coalition of nine organisations promoting sustainable shipping, argues that Maersk’s move “seriously undermines its credibility as a responsible ship operator”.

"Maersk is a European company and should abide by European laws. Suggesting that it might use a flag of convenience to escape EU ship breaking rules designed to protect the environment and worker safety is scandalous, and will seriously undermine its credibility as a responsible ship owner and operator."
John Maggs - Senior Policy Advisor at Seas At Risk and President of the Clean Shipping Coalition
"While Maersk supports innovation in reducing air polluting emissions, this move shows a cavalier attitude towards the environmental impacts of dismantling ships in the intertidal zone. Maersk needs to reverse course on practices that it previously denounced and that would never be allowed in Europe."
Sotiris Raptis - Shipping Officer - Transport & Environment

Maersk has recently decided to go back to India to have its old ships scrapped in yards that operate breaking activities in the intertidal zone of the beach. These yards will not be listed by the European Commission as they cannot comply with the requirements under the European Ship Recycling Regulation.

"Maersk has sent a clear signal: either European environmental regulation accommodates for its practices in India, or the world’s largest ship owner will just ignore the Ship Recycling Regulation by flagging out. The threat to resort to non-European flags amounts to blackmailing law makers who seek to ensure that European ship owners have to maintain European standards in their business activities around the world."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Click here to access the Clean Shipping Coalition's press release.


Platform News – Norway’s largest Pension Fund highlights human rights and environmental risks related to shipbreaking in South Asia

KLP, Norway’s largest pension fund [1], commissioned the International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) [2] to write a report on the human rights and environmental risks related to the current practice of dismantling end-of-life ships on intertidal beaches. The report entitled Shipbreaking practices in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. An investor perspective on the human rights and environmental impacts of beaching was released last week and examines the shipbreaking practices in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan in light of internationally recognised frameworks for responsible business conduct, as well as the practice of the Council on Ethics for the Norwegian Governmental Pension Fund.


The report argues that the responsibility of companies operating in the global market place does not stop at its own doorstep, but extends to adverse human rights impacts in the entire value chain. KLP joins a number of other investors and clients of shipping [3] that increasingly raise concerns over the current conditions of the shipbreaking industry in South Asia.

"The dismantling of ships using the ‘beaching’ method as it is practiced on the beaches of South Asia is dangerous for people and the environment."
Jeanett Bergan - Head of responsible investment - KLP

International standards by which corporate responsibility can be measured include the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGP). Companies are required to carry out a risk-based due diligence with respect to the human rights as well as environmental impact of their business activities, including their value chain.


In the report’s foreword, CEO of KLP, Håvard Gulbrandsen, states: “We hope that the report can help raise awareness of the severe human and environmental risks beaching can entail for shipping industry companies, their customers, and also for other investors. […] KLP hopes to encourage investors to work together to engage with companies on improving labour and environmental conditions. The shipping industry is and will be an important part of Norwegian investors' portfolios for the foreseeable future. KLP's goal is to work towards a future where responsible shipbreaking is the industry standard.”





[1] KLP is Norway's largest life insurance company. Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP) delivers financial and insurance services to the public sector, enterprises associated with the public sector and their employees.


[2] International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) is an independent institute focusing on good governance, peace and conflict, and international law. Their approach to solving global challenges is based on the integration of law and social sciences and on bridging the gap between academia and politics. They provide research, analysis, policy advice, process support and training to clients ranging from private companies and institutions to governments and international organisations.


[3] Major companies such as H&M, Tetra Laval, ABB, Philips, Volvo and Volkswagen do not want to be associated with substandard shipbreaking practices in South Asia and have asked their forwarders – the shipping companies they use to transport their goods – to adopt sustainable ship recycling policies. For more information click here.



Platform News – NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents Annual Report 2015

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents its Annual Report 2015.


Check the new Annual Report to find out more about:

- our findings about global shipbreaking practices in 2015, including an overview of developments on the ground and statistics on the total number of ships dismantled in 2015;

- our activities and campaigns in 2015, including our policy campaign aimed at creating a legal framework that ensures the growth of clean and safe ship recycling globally; our corporate campaign calling upon ship owners, cargo owners, ship financers and recyclers to commit to sustainable ship recycling; and our work in the shipbreaking countries where there is a need for strengthened regulation and implementation of existing legislation to protect the workers and the environment;

- our wide outreach in the press and on social media;

- latest organisational developments.


Download the Platform’s Annual Report 2015 here, or send us an email to order a hard copy.



Platform News – UN Special Rapporteur concerned about German shipbreaking practices

In a written submission to the German Government, UN Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak has expressed serious concerns related to the substandard shipbreaking practices of German ship owners, in particular fatalities and toxic chemical exposure of workers and the local population. The Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes has raised shipbreaking as one example where German companies face challenges to prevent harm caused by toxic and hazardous substances.


German ship owners operate the world’s third largest merchant fleet (in terms of number of vessels), and have been linked to fatalities and toxic chemical exposure of workers and local populations including children, who dismantle end-of-life ships in deadly conditions. In 2014, German ship owners sold a record high 95% of their end-of-life tonnage for substandard breaking on the beaches of South Asia,” he writes.


The Special Rapporteur argues that the preparation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, which is currently being developed under the lead of the German Foreign Office, provides an opportunity to address the challenges related to the protection of human rights in the business sphere. He calls on the Government to ensure that companies reduce the use of hazardous substances and prevent double standards. Moreover, he calls on the German Government “to create the much needed incentives and frameworks for German businesses to foster a positive human rights record”. The Special Rapporteur undertook an official country visit to Germany late in 2015, where he met with key stakeholders on the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

"We could not agree more with the Special Rapporteur’s conclusions. German ship owners need to take responsibility for sustainable recycling and stop the dumping of toxic end-of-life vessels via cash buyers in developing countries. When it comes to end-of-life management, human rights due diligence translates into the ship owners’ responsibility to prevent environmental pollution and the workers’ exposure to hazardous substances."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform calls on the German Government to raise the issue with the shipping community and to address their unacceptable practices in the National Action Plan. In 2015 alone, 23 large commercial vessels from Germany ended up in substandard shipbreaking yards, making German ship owners the fifth biggest dumpers globally. Several German ships were broken down in Bangladesh where environmental pollution, hazardous waste dumping and working conditions are the worst. The Platform has been able to link fatal and severe accidents in Indian and Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards to the demolition of German vessels. The latest severe accident related to a German ship owner concerns Hamburg-based ship owner Neu Seeschiffahrt GmbH who sold its end-of-life ore carrier RENATE N (IMO 9006851) to Seiko Steel / Darussalam Enterprise with the help of cash buyer Wirana this February. Mominul, an only 20 years old worker, was severely injured when he fell from great heights working without adequate protection gear. He will remain disabled for the rest of his life. The yard management has not paid for the necessary operation only available in a specialised hospital.


Apart from Germany’s largest ship owner Hapag Lloyd, which has a progressive ship recycling policy, the rest of the ship-owning community has remained shamefully inactive with regards to finding sustainable and safe solutions to the issue.


More information from the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.