Platform News – Latest report on ship recycling in Turkey presented in Izmir

On February 3, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform presented its latest report, Ship Recycling in Turkey – Challenges and Future Directions, in Izmir, Turkey. Attending the event, representatives from local NGOs, unions and concerned citizens engaged in a constructive dialogue on the future outlook of the sector and how to ensure safe and environmentally sound practices.

 

While the report sheds light on the the diverse challenges faced by the ship recycling sector in Aliağa, it also emphasises the vast potential for fostering sustainable practices in Turkey and outlines a clear path towards achieving this goal. The event in Izmir explored avenues for collaborative efforts aimed at ensuring a robust Environmental Impact Assessment for the sector, the development of appropriate industrial platforms to contain pollutants, and the adoption of cutting-edge technologies to minimize exposure to risks.

 

To gain further insights into the initiatives that can drive progress in the Turkish sector, the Platform recommends the reading of the publication by the Ministry of Environment, Urbanism, and Climate, which evaluates the use of new technologies in Aliağa and the move of operations to either floating- or dry-docks.

 

The Toxic Tide – 2023 Shipbreaking Records

THE TOXIC TIDE

The shipping industry continues to exploit workers and the environment for profit

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 446 ocean-going commercial ships and floating offshore units were sold to the scrap yards in 2024. Of these, 325 of the largest tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo- and passenger ships ended up on the beaches of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, amounting to more than 85% of the gross tonnage dismantled globally.

 

Last year, at least 6 workers lost their lives when breaking apart vessels on the beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh, and another 19 were severely injured. Some of these accidents took place onboard vessels owned by well-known shipping companies, such as Polaris Shipping and Polys Haji-Ioannou Group.

 

 

"We have been witnessing this environmental and human rights scandal for too long. All ship owners are aware of the dire situation at the beaching yards and the lack of capacity to safely handle the many toxic materials onboard vessels. Yet, with the help of scrap dealers, the vast majority choose to scrap their end-of-life fleet in South Asia as that is where they can make the highest profits."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

 

Explore our Data Visualisation and read our Press Release.

 

 

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2023

Shipping industry's disgrace: 85 percent of global tonnage scrapped on three beaches in South Asia

 

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 446 ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units were scrapped in 2023. The vast majority, 325 ships in total, were taken apart on a beach in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan. Most vessels scrapped originally belonged to shipping companies in East Asia and Europe.

"There is no possibility to take apart a ship on a beach in a way that is environmentally sustainable and safe for workers. Shipping companies are dodging their responsibility to make sure their toxic waste does not harm workers’ health and sensitive coastal environments."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In South Asia, workers are exposed to explosions, falling steel plates and toxic fumes and substances that can be found within the ships’ structures. Toxic waste leaks into the ocean and affects marine life, while also making its way into ground water and agricultural fields. The air is polluted far beyond internationally accepted levels, also as a result of the low-cost method used in the region to re-roll contaminated ship scrap steel.

 

In 2023, at least 6 workers lost their lives when breaking apart vessels on the beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh, and another 19 were severely injured. Some of these accidents took place onboard vessels owned by well-known shipping companies, such as South Korean Sinokor and Greek Polys Haji-Ioannou Group. 

"It is expected that many accidents go unreported due to lack of transparency. There is furthermore no official monitoring and recording of occupational diseases, including cancer, of which many more workers suffer."
Sara Costa - Project Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

DUMPERS 2023 – Worst practices

 

China tops the list of country dumper in 2023. Despite the existence of state-of-the-art ship recycling facilities at national level, Chinese owners sold 71 vessels for scrapping in South Asia, 59 of which were beached in Bangladesh. While China has banned  the import of waste as part of its efforts to clean its own environment and improve the quality of life of its citizens, the Chinese shipping industry is getting away with dumping its toxic waste on some of the most vulnerable communities and environments in the world. 

 

Hong Kong, UAE, Thailand, Greece, Russia and South Korea follow as worst dumpers in 2023 with more than a dozen ships beached each.

 

Swiss containership giant Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is the 2023 worst corporate dumper. Despite having been repeatedly and strongly criticised for its dumping of more than one hundred ships in the last decade, MSC scrapped no less than 14 of its old container ships in Alang, India, in 2023. The MSC FLORIANA and MSC GIOVANNA respectively left from Spanish and Turkish waters for scrap in clear breach of European and international law that bans the export of hazardous waste from OECD to non-OECD countries. Illegal exports of end-of-life ships is a criminal offence. 

"It is beyond shameful for a company that makes billions of yearly profit to knowingly persist exploiting workers while turning a blind eye to the environmental degradation caused by beaching. Ironically, MSC recently committed to prevent known illegal exporters of waste use their ships to facilitate illegal waste trade. We call on MSC to make the same commitment with regards to their own toxic waste."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Evergreen, Gearbulk, Green Reefers, Maersk, Sinokor and Zodiac Group Monaco are other well-known companies that sold their toxic assets for scrapping on South Asian beaches in 2023.


Conditions at the ship recycling yards in Aliaga, Turkey, have also come under the spotlight in a new report. Pollution and poor occupational health and safety conditions occur at all stages of the ship recycling process, including the management of waste water and disposal of the hazardous materials originating from ships. Recent audits and unannounced inspections of the facilities by the European Commission furthermore revealed that actual day-to-day practices do not comply with the standard required for EU approval. 

"While regulatory gaps need to be closed in Turkey to ensure proper permitting and monitoring of the sector, the European Union can play an important role by sustaining unannounced inspections and reviewing their standard for ship recycling to include clear requirements for waste management and the use of safer and cleaner technologies, such as cold cutting and dry docks."
Ekin Sakin - Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Environmental and labour laws that regulate ship recycling exist, but they are ignored and easily circumvented by ship owners. In a report on the conditions at the shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh, it is revealed how middle men scrap dealers, known as cash buyers, re-name, re-register and re-flag end-of-life ships prior to their last voyage to the beaching yards in an attempt to conceal original ownership. Almost half of the ships beached in 2023 changed their original flag to a grey- or black-listed flag registry just weeks before hitting the beach. The flags of Cameroon, Comoros, Mongolia, Palau, St Kitts & Nevis and Tanzania were particularly popular with cash buyers. At least two of these flag changes enabled Greek companies Danaos Shipping and Ilios Shipping to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation which requires EU flagged vessels to only be dismantled in EU approved ship recycling facilities. 

"The EU shipping sector is not being held accountable for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling. The number of ships with an EU flag at end-of-life is dwarfed by the amount of European tonnage beached in South Asia, and begs for the extension of the scope of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation to include ownership, not only flag."
Benedetta Mantoan - Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Looking ahead, the number of ships that will need to be dismantled is expected to surge. At the same time, the growing focus on circularity and demand for low-carbon scrap steel provides opportunities to transform the ship recycling sector. EU legislation on ship recycling will be reviewed, providing an opportunity to close existing loopholes and enhance corporate accountability.

"We applaud the forward-looking governments and companies that are developing laws, policies and technologies to encourage the expansion of sustainable ship recycling capacity. The new regulation issued by the UAE Government and the new policy adopted by Brazilian Petrobras considerably raise the bar for ship recycling, and showcase that it is possible for both governments and companies to say no to beaching."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Read more about the pioneers of green ship recycling in our Breaking Out magazine.

 

 

For the data visualization of 2023 shipbreaking records, click here. *

For the full Excel dataset of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2023, click here. * **

 

* The data gathered by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform is sourced from different outlets and stakeholders, and is cross-checked whenever possible. The data upon which this information is based is correct to the best of the Platform’s knowledge, and the Platform takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided. The Platform will correct or complete data if any inaccuracy is signaled. All data which has been provided is publicly available and does not reveal any confidential business information.

** UPDATE 1 February - Two ships, which were scrapped in the Netherlands, were excluded from the dataset because their actual gross tonnage (GT) fell below 500.

*** UPDATE 2 February - The Platform was made aware by Polaris Shipping that it had wrongly attributed the accidents in Bangladesh to vessels owned by Polaris. Three accidents took place on vessels owned by South Korean Sinokor, not Polaris, and the text has now been rectified. Polaris has not sold any vessel for scrapping since the second quarter of 2021.

Press Release – Ship recycling in Aliağa under the spotlight

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

NOTES

 

[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.

 

 

FULL REPORT

 

English version

 

Turkish version

 

Press Release – UAE takes important steps towards sustainable ship recycling

NGOs call on the European Union and ship owners to follow suit

 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s new Ship Recycling Regulation requires a dry dock or equivalent infrastructures for environmentally sound ship recycling. Set to take effect from June 2025, this transformative legislation effectively brings about a ban on the beaching and landing of UAE-flagged vessels as well as all foreign vessels leaving or transiting through UAE waters enroute to scrap yards. [1]

"We applaud the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure for this bold move, which is poised to have a profound impact, particularly on the prevalent practice of delivering end-of-life vessels to cash buyers in UAE waters before their final journey to South Asian beaches. "
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Beaching is already banned in other major ship owning countries, including the European Union (EU), China and Japan. The UAE's new rules surpass the EU Ship Recycling Regulation by banning the landing method as practiced in Aliaga, Turkey. They furthermore ban the re-flagging of vessels for the purpose of scrapping them at beaching or landing facilities.

"We strongly urge the EU to align its Ship Recycling Regulation, currently under review, with the recent steps taken by the UAE. Stopping the practice of circumventing legislation by out-flagging is crucial, and closing the avenue for employing the worst ship recycling methods, i.e. beaching and landing, is imperative for safeguarding workers’ safety and ecosystems."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The new UAE Ship Recycling Regulation aims to encourage the growth of compliant ship recycling facilities. Whilst a dry-dock facility is already conducting ship recycling in neighbouring Bahrain, more dry-dock capacity that can ensure full containment of hazardous materials and pollution is needed to accommodate the many vessels that will reach the end of their lives in the coming years. 

"UAE ship owners have a track record of using beaching yards for the scrapping of their vessels. We therefore welcome the UAE government’s announcements that they will boost dry-dock capacity and ensure that all end-of-life ships in their waters only head towards facilities that operate in an environmentally sound manner. We encourage the shipping sector to join in on this effort to clean up its last act."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

NOTE

 

[1] The Regulation applies to UAE-flagged vessels and 

- Foreign ships where the decision to recycle the ship was made when the vessel was in UAE waters. 

- Foreign ships that have commenced the final voyage for recycling directly from UAE waters, with or without any technical stops in between while enroute to the recycling facility or have stopped at a UAE port or anchorage while on their way to the recycling facility.

 

Press Release – Petrobras to recycle offshore unit in Brazil for the first time

Petrobras, the major Brazilian energy company, has achieved a significant milestone in its new commitment to sustainable ship recycling with the successful conclusion of the auction for the disposal of a floating offshore platform in Brazil.

 

The sale of the floating unit P-32, which has operated in the Marlim field of the Campos Basin, took place on 7 July 2023. In a collaboration supervised by Petrobras, the  steel company Gerdau S.A. and shipyard Ecovix have been entrusted with the responsible and environmentally sound recycling of the platform.

"This decision marks the first time a commercial vessel at the end of its lifecycle will be dismantled in Brazil. This significant move not only paves the way for the development of a recycling industry in Brazil but also sets an important precedent for the shipping and oil and gas sectors, encouraging other ship owners to adopt similar strategies for capacity building."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Over the next five years, Petrobras is expected to retire at least 26 units, with a projected investment of US$ 9.8 billion allocated towards decommissioning activities. Just a few months ago, the oil and gas giant announced the adoption of a new policy mandating the recycling of vessels only in facilities equipped with dry-docks or impermeable surfaces with drainage systems. This off the beach stance places the company among an increasing number of responsible ship owners, including competitors SBM Offshore and Shell, that are choosing facilities with infrastructure enabling the safe and environmentally sound management of their end-of-life assets.

 

"After years of selling numerous old vessels for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking on the shores of South Asia, Petrobras has finally committed to environmental stewardship by unequivocally disavowing such practices. Moreover, their decision to opt for a domestic solution, leveraging the state-of-the-art infrastructure available in Brazil, showcases that it is possible to find alternative and better solutions to beaching."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2022

Shipbreaking on the beaches of South Asia continues to cause serious harm to workers and the environment despite plunge in number of ships scrapped

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 443 ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units were sold for scrapping in 2022. Of these, 292 large tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo- and passenger ships ended up for dirty and dangerous breaking on tidal beaches in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

 

Whilst the South Asian shipbreaking yards experienced the lowest turnover in over a decade, with a significant drop in terms of the number of ships scrapped, they remained the preferred destination for end-of-life vessels, dismantling 80% of the global end-of-life gross tonnage. The reasons for the plunge in the number of vessels scrapped in 2022 are multiple, with high ocean freight rates that made it profitable to continue operating older vessels and banks’ shortages in providing credits to companies for the purchase of end-of-life assets identified as the main drivers.

"Companies have a duty to eliminate the negative impacts that their commercial decisions have on the environment and people. End-of-life vessels are hazardous waste, and taking them apart on tidal beaches is by far the worst industrial practice."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In South Asia, workers – often exploited migrants – are exposed to immense risks. Dangerous working conditions, including fires and falling steel plates, kill or seriously injure numerous workers. Many more are sickened by exposure to toxic fumes and substances that can be found within the ships’ structures. Coastal biomes, and the local communities depending on them, are devastated by toxic spills and air pollution due to the lack of infrastructure to contain, properly manage and dispose of hazardous materials.

 

In 2022, at least 10 workers lost their lives and 33 workers suffered injuries when breaking apart vessels on the beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh. Local sources also reported three deaths in Alang, India, and three injuries in Gadani, Pakistan. Some of these accidents took place onboard vessels owned by well-known shipping companies, such as Berge Bulk, Sinokor and Winson Oil.


DUMPERS 2022 – Worst practices

 

The 2022 worst country dumper was China. Chinese owners sold 28 ships for scrapping in South Asia, most of which were beached in Bangladesh. Russia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Greece follow with more than a dozen ships beached each.

 

Major dry bulk carrier Berge Bulk, which has figured amongst the worst corporate dumpers several years in a row, reached the top in 2022. The company scrapped four carriers in Bangladesh and India, reaching a total of 24 vessels beached in the last ten years. Berge Bulk’s scrapping practices stand in evident contrast with the company’s declared commitment to sustainability and safety. According to local sources, three separate accidents, causing injuries to three workers, occurred during the cutting of the BERGE KANGCHENJUNGA at Ferdous Steel yard in Bangladesh. On 3 March, Amirul broke his leg after a fall. On 27 April, an iron piece suddenly hit Sedan Das on his spine. On 2 August, Motin suffered burn injuries due to a fire. Shipping sources link cash buyer GMS to the sale of the BERGE KANGCHENJUNGA, re-named JENGA prior beaching.

 

Brazilian state-owned company Petrobras comes second for worst corporate practice. More than five years have passed since civil society organisations and trade unions urged the Brazilian government to stop the dumping of toxic end-of-life ships in the Global South. Yet, oil giant Petrobras sold another four of its old tankers and two of its old floating platforms for dismantling on South Asian beaches last year, reaching a total of 34 vessels beached in the last decade. The units were auctioned off to scrap dealers. According to shipping sources, at least three of the units were sold to cash buyer Best Oasis.

"In order to ensure clean and safe ship recycling off the beach, it is time for Brazil to introduce stricter requirements for the public auctions of end-of-life vessels and offshore units, and to properly enforce international legislation on hazardous waste exports. This continuous toxic dumping perpetrated by Petrobras and the scandal of the former aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO should have already served as a wake-up call."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

BW Offshore is another well-known company that dumped its toxic units on the beach last year. On 21 April, a worker lost his life at the Indian yard Priya Blue Industries, where BW Offshore’s Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) CIDADE DE SÃO VICENTE was being cut. Assisted by Arctic Shipbrokers, Grieg Green and cash buyer Best Oasis, the deal was branded as a green sale.

 

Back in January 2019, Norwegian pension fund KLP had blacklisted Nordic American Tankers (NAT), a Bermuda-registered company controlled from Norway by Herbjørn Hanson, following the sale of several tankers for dirty and dangerous scrapping at South Asian beaching yards. Yet, NAT seems not to have improved its policy since, with two additional NAT vessels ending up on the beaches of India and Pakistan last year.


Environmental and labour laws that regulate ship recycling exist, but they are ignored and easily circumvented by ship owners, often with the aid of scrap dealers known as cash buyers. These pay the highest price for end-of-life vessels, and typically re-name, re-register and re-flag the vessels on their last voyage to the beaching yards. More than half of the ships sold to South Asia in 2022 changed flag to one of the grey- and black-listed flags of Cameroon, Comoros, Palau, St Kitts & Nevis and Tanzania, often just weeks before hitting the beach. At least eight of these flag changes enabled ship owners to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. Seven of these units, including one owned by Italian Finbeta SpA, ended up on a beach instead of being recycled in an EU-approved facility as the Regulation requires.

"Existing laws are way too easy for ship owners to circumvent. The decisions to scrap are taken in offices in Hamburg, Athens, Antwerp, Copenhagen and other shipping hubs. This reality begs for the introduction and enforcement of measures that effectively hold the real beneficial owners of the vessels responsible in their own jurisdictions, regardless of the flags used and ports of departure for scrapping."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In 2022, a total of 49 ships were dismantled in Aliağa, Turkey, a site where currently six EU-approved ship recycling yards are located. Civil society organisations have raised concerns over the ship recycling operations in the region and massively mobilised over the summer to stop the import of the toxic-laden aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO. They flag serious breaches of national laws related to environmental permits, pollution, occupational health and safety and waste management in the sector. Two facilities, Şimşekler and Işıksan, were removed from the EU List in 2022 due to their failure to comply with the requirements set in the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. Furthermore, recently published audit reports of two other yards reveal several problems.

"Now, given the awareness of the violations, our focus will be on enhancing and strengthening environmental standards and occupational health and safety practices so that the ship recycling sector fully respects workers, local communities and the environment."
Asli Odman - Academic and Volunteer - Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch

Dangerous and dirty practices are affecting also countries that rarely make ship recycling headlines. In Canada, the illegal breaking of barges and asbestos-laden vessels is negatively affecting the local residents and the indigenous people of Baynes Sound. On the opposite side of the Atlantic, the demolition of dozens of toxic ships is polluting the shores of Ghana.

"We urge Canadian and Ghanaian authorities to halt immediately these substandard practices, and take example from the existing EU legislation on ship recycling when developing new sets of national rules."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Looking ahead, the number of ships that will need to be dismantled is expected to surge. At the same time, the growing focus on circularity and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions provide opportunities to transform the ship recycling sector. Already, forward-looking governments are developing policies to increase access to scrap steel for green steel production, coupling that with measures to encourage the development of sustainable ship recycling capacity. For instance, the United Arab Emirates have adopted a “no-beaching” rule and aim to attract vessels for dismantling in dry docks. The European Union’s Green Deal is, on its side, pushing major steel companies to explore ways of integrating ship recycling in their production line.

"A just transition in the ship recycling sector is possible. Clean and safe solutions are already available, and innovations ranging from robotics to water-jet cutting technologies will not only ensure safer practices but also render sustainable ship recycling more cost-effective. We call upon ship owners, especially the large containership companies that will have many vessels to scrap in 2023, to support the shift away from the beaching yards."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Read more about the pioneers of green ship recycling in our Breaking Out magazine.

 

 

For the data visualization of 2022 shipbreaking records, click here. *

For the full Excel dataset of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2022, click here. *

 

* The data gathered by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform is sourced from different outlets and stakeholders, and is cross-checked whenever possible. The data upon which this information is based is correct to the best of the Platform’s knowledge, and the Platform takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided. The Platform will correct or complete data if any inaccuracy is signaled. All data which has been provided is publicly available and does not reveal any confidential business information.

 

Press Release – Ship recycling workers’ protest shakes Aliaga

In the last six days, almost the totality of the ship recycling workforce at İzmir Aliağa district, Turkey, has been striking for better employment conditions. Around 1500 workers are claiming that they do not earn enough money, with their recent pay raise remaining below the galloping inflation rate. The action was initiated spontaneously by employees of several ship recycling facilities operating in Aliağa, including some of those recently approved by the EU. Exercising their right of peaceful assembly according to Turkish constitutional provisions, people gathered in front of the offices of the Ship Recycler's Association and, shouting slogans, marched to the yards. The production at all 22 facilities has been halted. 

 

Besides asking for better living wages, workers are also demanding to their employers to provide them with personal protective equipment, and to increase investments in occupational health and safety in the sector. Recently, multiple accidents have been reported. Regrettably, the causes of injuries and deaths in Aliağa have remained the same over the last 30 years. Local NGOs documented at least 44 occupational deaths since 1992. Last year alone, five workers lost their lives, also at EU approved yards. This year, two workers were seriously injured and are currently being treated at the hospital. Whilst Kasım Han was hit by a falling piece on his chest, Osman Gökduman fell from a crane. 

 

Asli Odman, academic at Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch, explains that workers are also falling sick and dying of occupational diseases many years after being exposed to toxics found on ships, but these numbers go totally unreported. Cancer rates in Aliağa are much higher than the Turkish average. In fact, asbestos is one of the most common and most hazardous materials found onboard old ships. When extracted, it can break into fine fibres, which can remain in the air for long periods of time. If inhaled, the fibres can lead to fatal diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, the symptoms of which are not apparent for many years. Asbestos fibres, attached to clothing and textiles, can also easily travel to the workers' accommodations, lengthening exposure to the pollutant and putting others living in the same locations at risk. Unsafe working conditions, including the lack of measures taken to manage asbestos properly, have been recently exposed. 

"We hope that the current strike and recent accidents will prompt a significant improvement in terms of occupational health and safety for the workers in Aliağa. We invite the European Commission to take this information into account when reviewing facilities already included in the EU List and new candidates for inclusion."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Also when it comes to environmental performance, Turkish facilities have room for improvement. The Platform is of the opinion that the landing method used in Aliağa should be progressively phased out, in favor of the use of fully contained areas for scrapping. 

 

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2021

The vast majority of ships continue to be broken under conditions that pollute and expose workers to immense risk

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 763 ocean-going commercial ships and floating offshore units were sold to the scrap yards in 2021. Of these, 583 of the largest tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo- and passenger ships ended up on the beaches of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, amounting to near the totality of the gross tonnage dismantled globally.

"We have been witnessing this environmental and human rights scandal for too long. All ship owners are aware of the dire situation at the beaching yards and the lack of capacity to safely handle the many toxic materials onboard vessels. Yet, with the help of scrap dealers, the vast majority choose to scrap their end-of-life fleet in South Asia as that is where they can make the highest profits."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In South Asia, workers – often exploited migrants, some of them children – are exposed to immense risks. Dangerous working conditions, including fires and falling steel plates, kill or seriously injure numerous workers. Many more are sickened by exposure to toxic fumes and substances that can be found within the ships’ structures. Coastal biomes, and the local communities depending on them, are devastated by toxic spills and air pollution due to the lack of infrastructure to contain, properly manage and dispose of hazardous materials.

 

In 2021, at least 14 workers lost their lives when breaking apart vessels on the beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh, and another 34 were severely injured. Local sources also reported two deaths in Alang, India, and two deaths in Gadani, Pakistan. Some of these accidents took place onboard vessels owned by well-known shipping companies, such as Berge Bulk, Nathalin Co, Polaris Shipping and Winson Oil.

"The sector suffers from a serious lack of transparency, and it is expected that several accidents go unreported. Many more workers suffer from cancers and other occupational diseases, due to the long-term exposure to hazardous substances, including asbestos. We have launched a fundraising campaign to help the victims of unregulated shipbreaking in collaboration with new local partners in Bangladesh, and urge people or companies to support us so that proper medical treatment can be provided."
Sara Costa - Project Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

2021 worst country dumper were the United Arab Emirates. UAE owners sold 60 ships for scrapping in South Asia, most of which were beached in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Singapore, Greece and the United States of America follow with more than 40 ships beached each.

"The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure of the UAE has recently proposed a new regulation to promote sustainable ship recycling. It includes a clear ban on the use of beaching facilities. This is an important signal, which we hope will push UAE owners to rapidly exclude South Asian shores from their scrapping options and prompt the establishment of new sustainable facilities in the region."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

South Korean Sinokor was 2020’s runner-up for worst corporate dumper. Their practice has not improved and they now top the list of 2021 worst dumper, having scrapped 12 of their carriers and LNG tankers in Bangladesh and Pakistan. One accident, causing a severe injury to a worker, occurred during the cutting of the Mediterranean Energy at SN Corporation yard in Chittagong. At the same yard, a total of two workers died and seven were injured last year.

 

The giant fresh fruit producers Del Monte and Dole, BULL, BW Offshore, Knutsen Group, Maersk, International Seaways, Petrobras and Stolt-Nielsen are other well-known companies that dumped their toxic ships on South Asian beaches in 2021.

 

The pandemic continued to affect the cruise shipping sector, with more companies taking steps to reduce operating expenses, including the retirement of relatively young vessels. Whilst major cruise lines have committed to use EU-approved recycling yards, other unscrupulous owners have opted for the more profitable beaches in South Asia. As revealed by the Platform and BBC’s File on 4, several passenger ships, including the COLUMBUS, the MAGELLAN, the MARCO POLO and the RIGEL I, illegally left EU waters for scrapping in India under the false pretext of further operational use. 

 
Environmental and labour laws that regulate ship recycling exist, but they are ignored and easily circumvented by ship owners, often with the aid of scrap dealers, known as cash buyers. These pay the highest price for end-of-life vessels, and typically re-name, re-register and re-flag the vessels on their last voyage to the beaching yards. Almost half of the ships sold to South Asia in 2021 changed flag to one of the black-listed flags of Comoros, Palau and St Kitts & Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. At least seventeen of these flag changes enabled ship owners to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, including two units owned by Italian O&G company SAIPEM and two owned by Greek European Navigation. Their units ended up on a beach instead of being recycled in an EU-approved facility as the Regulation requires.

"The EU recently reaffirmed in its proposal for a new regulation on waste shipments that shipbreaking is a question of environmental justice. Yet, the infamous shipbreaking beaches of South Asia remain the preferred scrapping destination for many well-known European shipping companies. At least 1/3 of the tonnage scrapped in South Asia is European. The decisions to scrap these ships under conditions that would not be allowed in the EU are taken in offices in Hamburg, Athens, Antwerp, Copenhagen and other EU shipping hubs. This reality begs for the introduction and enforcement of measures that effectively hold the real beneficial owners of the vessels responsible, regardless of the flags used and/or of the ports of departure."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The EU has so far approved 44 sites around the world as operating in a safe and environmentally sound manner. No South Asian yard has been approved due to the lack of capacity to safely handle and dispose of hazardous materials, and the lack of infrastructure to provide for emergency response. Only 37 vessels were recorded recycled in EU-approved facilities in 2021, which represent a minor fraction of what these yards are able to handle.

 

But, last year, five workers also lost their lives at the Turkish ship recycling yards in Aliağa. On 4 February, a worker died when hit by a steel block which he was torch-cutting in the secondary cutting area of EU-approved yard Simsekler. On 12 July, Yılmaz Demir and Oğuz Taşkın were onboard a cruise ship owned by Carnival at Metas yard when they were suddenly caught by flames. Yılmaz died on the spot, whilst Oğuz succumbed due to severe burns three days later at the nearby hospital. Two months later, Veli Bal and İlyas Bıdık were fatally hit by a rope that broke during dismantling operations at the same facility, which was recently acquired by EU-approved yard Ege Çelik.

"The causes of the accidents have sadly remained the same over the last 30 years. Workers, however, also fall sick and die of occupational diseases many years after being exposed to toxics. Cancer rates in Aliağa are much higher than the Turkish average. Illegal practices with regards to removal and disposal of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, are ignored. Aliağa is dying, along with its shipbreaking workers, under the very heavy load and pace of full commission books and growing profits for a sector that is cutting corners on safety and environmental protection. Europe needs to take the lead in demanding higher standards and should no longer assume that conditions are satisfactory just because they are seemingly compliant on paper."
Asli Odman - Academic and Volunteer - Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch

Clean and safe solutions are available, and in light of new policies aimed at promoting a circular economy, several companies are now exploring the use of abandoned dry docks for the recycling of vessels. It is high time that the sector moves off the beach to proper industrial sites where workers and the environment can be safeguarded.

For the data visualization of 2021 shipbreaking records, click here. *

For the full Excel dataset of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2021, click here. * **

 

* The data gathered by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform is sourced from different outlets and stakeholders, and is cross-checked whenever possible. The data upon which this information is based is correct to the best of the Platform’s knowledge, and the Platform takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided. The Platform will correct or complete data if any inaccuracy is signaled. All data which has been provided is publicly available and does not reveal any confidential business information.

**[UPDATE 2 February 2022 - It has come to our attention that we have incorrectly attributed, based on information provided by shipping databases, the ownership of the vessel BP Jacky to UK-based group BP plc. We have therefore rectified the data concerning the beneficial ownership of this unit, which was controlled by Peruvian Transgas Shipping Lines instead.

 

NOTE

 

[1] In 2021, demolition rates – i.e. the amount a ship owner obtains for selling an end-of-life ship – increased substantially. Whilst the exact rate will depend on the type of vessel and grade of steel, on average the beaching yards in South Asia paid owners 500-600 USD/LDT, compared to 250 USD/LDT in Turkey, and 150 USD/LDT in Europe.

Chattogram, Bangladesh - © NGO Shipbreaking Platform - 2021

Press Release – The EU agrees: the recycling of ships is a matter of 
global environmental justice

The Basel Convention's ban on the export of toxic ships to developing countries reestablished

 

In its proposal for a new regulation on waste shipments published last week, the European Commission surprised many observers by rejecting their earlier romance with the Hong Kong Convention and return to the Basel Convention's affirmation that the Global South should not become the world's dumping ground for hazardous wastes, even when those wastes are ships.  

 

In 2013, EU-flagged vessels were removed from the scope of the waste shipment rules by way of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, which aimed to ignore the Basel Convention in favor of following the Hong Kong Convention. To date, the Hong Kong Convention, crafted in 2009 under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization, is still not in force. Meanwhile, the Basel Convention's "Basel Ban", designed with a pointed intent to protect developing countries from exploitation, did enter in force as new Convention Article 4a on 5 December 2019.
The EU Waste Shipment Regulation proposal now states that EU-flagged vessels intended to be scrapped whilst under EU jurisdiction are no longer exempted from EU waste laws and need to comply the with Article 4a; this makes it illegal to export any form of hazardous waste from OECD to non-OECD countries for any reason. In a report published in September 2020, bolstered by a legal analysis by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the NGOs European Environmental Bureau, Basel Action Network, Greenpeace and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform had urged the EU to realign its legislation to respect its international legal commitments under the Basel Convention, including the Ban. 

"That the EU has reinstated the legal validity of the Basel Ban and realised they could no longer pretend that the Ship Recycling Regulation could somehow escape international waste law is a major victory for global environmental justice and governance. The EU proposal now reflects a clear mandate that both the Waste Shipment Regulation and the ship recycling rules must apply to old ships at the same time."
Jim Puckett - Executive Director - Basel Action Network (BAN)

Unfortunately though, while this is seen as a significant signal, very little of the world's fleet of ships, including those flying EU flags, are going to be caught in an EU port when they declare they are to be recycled. It remains all too easy for ship owners to wait to make the fateful scrap announcement in the ports of non-OECD countries or even on the high seas, and thus legally avoid the Basel Ban. The Hong Kong Convention governs flag states, but flags are easily changed; further, the Hong Kong Convention does not have any trade restrictions to prevent the Global South from being disproportionately burdened with the world's most hazardous and difficult-to-recycle wastes. 
Meanwhile, 30% of the tonnage broken down on the infamous shipbreaking beaches of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, harming human health and the environment, is owned by EU-domiciled shipping companies.  Thus it is that NGOs are seeking legislative reforms that place legal jurisdiction over exports defined not only by port states, and flags states, but by the countries that are the corporate domicile of ship owners as well. 

"The decision to scrap these European ships is taken in offices in Hamburg, Athens, Antwerp, Copenhagen and other EU shipping hubs. They are the true exporters regardless of where the vessels happen to be in the world or what flags they fly. Clearly, new efforts must be undertaken to prevent these owners from continuing to circumvent the intent of the Basel Convention to prevent toxic waste dumping."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

According to the environmental and human rights groups, new thinking on how to hold shipping companies accountable for the proper management of their end-of-life ships is aligned with emerging European policies. The European Green Deal calls on the EU to manage its own waste and encourage a circular economy by building a robust and dynamic market for secondary materials, and one that avoids the blatant cost externalisation made possible via exports to weaker economies.  

"We now have an excellent opportunity to close the dumping loopholes and unlock the potential of the EU market for much needed responsible, environmentally just and clean ship recycling, while offering the EU steel manufacturing industry increased availability of scrap steel, avoiding more energy intensive primary production and thus lowering our carbon footprint."
Stéphane Arditi - Director for Policy Integration and Circular Economy - European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

CONTACTS  

 

Ingvild Jenssen, NGO Shipbreaking Platform, ingvild@shipbreakingplatform.org, +32 260 94 419.

Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network, jpuckett@ban.org, +1 206 652 5555.