Press Release – Ship recycling in Aliağa under the spotlight

Published in December 20th, 2023

NGOs call on Turkey and the EU to bring needed change and transition the sector towards dry docks


The NGO Shipbreaking Platform publishes today its report Ship Recycling in Turkey: Challenges and Future Direction. While the report provides a comprehensive analysis of the current challenges faced by the ship recycling sector in Aliağa [1], it also underscores the immense potential for driving forward sustainable ship recycling practices and demonstrates a clear path towards achieving this goal. [2]


Turkey stands at a crossroads as the recent announcement of plot sales in October 2023 and the upcoming expiration of public land leases in 2026 create an opening to bring needed change to its ship recycling industry. 

"The Ministries of Environment, Labour and Transport should seize this opportunity to facilitate the transition of the ship recycling sector towards sustainable practices. To ensure the resilience of industry in Turkey, it is crucial that existing regulatory gaps are addressed through the implementation of forward-thinking and comprehensive legislation, and that investments and incentives to introduce safer and cleaner technologies, including cold cutting and dry docks, are mobilised."
Ekin Sakin - Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Some of the key operational priorities highlighted in the report include putting in place effective drainage channels and the use of oil-water separators for waste water treatment. Additionally, there is a need for third-party verification of hazardous materials during dismantling, proper operations for hazardous waste removal, and the establishment of standards for secure pulling and lifting equipment, along with introduction of proper gas-free operations and cold-cutting techniques.


To ensure adequate oversight of the sector, a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is necessary. This assessment should define environmental licensing processes and enforce existing legal instruments for permitting and monitoring, taking into consideration both safety and environmental aspects. It is also important to continuously monitor the environment in and around ship recycling yards to identify sources of pollution and develop effective remediation strategies. Furthermore, occupational health monitoring is required to identify the underlying causes of accidents and work-related illnesses.

"The health and safety of ship recycling workers must be prioritised. Worker health, public health, and environmental health are interconnected, and to effectively oversee and manage the ship recycling industry it is crucial to address both labour and environmental concerns in a comprehensive manner."
Aslı Odman - Istanbul Worker's Health and Safety Watch


Whilst two yards in Aliağa were removed from the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities last year, other non-compliant yards have been allowed to remain listed. As stressed in the report, the lack of governance that allows yards to operate without EIAs or adequate monitoring underscores the necessity for more frequent and unannounced EU inspections, including cross-referencing hazardous waste records and incorporating workers’ perspectives and experience to inform evaluations. 


Recognising the pivotal role of the European Union (EU) in driving improvements, the report also recommends strengthening the criteria for ship recycling, including waste management and steel recovery operations, under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation.

"As Turkey, the EU is also at a crossroad with the ongoing review of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. We urge the EU to require cleaner technologies and follow the recent steps taken by the UAE on the future direction of the industry and its transition to dry docks."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform



[1] Problems identified in the report include high levels of air, soil and water pollution, dysfunctional waste water management systems, failure to provide appropriate protective equipment to workers, irregularities in asbestos management, lack of Environmental Impact Assessments and poor monitoring of the sector. 


[2] This path towards sustainable ship recycling in Turkey involves the implementation of a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment, new industrial platforms to ensure containment, cutting-edge technologies to minimize risks, ensuring safe working conditions and worker participation, and implementing a robust waste management plan to safeguard workers, local communities, and the environment.


[3] The UAE has surpassed the standards set in the EU Ship Recycling Regulation through the introduction of new national rules that prohibit the use of beaching (as practices in Alang in India, Chattogram in Bangladesh and Gadani in Pakistan) and landing methods (as practiced in Aliağa in Turkey), and require the use of dry docks.





English version


Turkish version