Breaking Out News Series – Unlocking Brazil’s potential in ship recycling

We are excited to launch our Breaking Out News Series, in anticipation of the second edition of our Ship Recycling Lab in Lisbon this October. Highlighting innovators who believe in competitive, responsible practices, we challenge damaging methods of ship dismantling on tidal beaches and advocate for safer, cleaner and smarter alternatives.

 

Our first post focuses on why Brazil is poised to become a significant player in the global ship recycling market. With its extensive coastline and robust maritime industry, many existing facilities, primarily engaged in shipbuilding and repair, have the potential to expand into recycling.

 

Professor Newton Pereira of Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) tells us that Brazil is likely to become an important destination for ship owners looking for the sustainable disposal of their assets. From already existing large infrastructure in the States of Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul and Pernambuco to strict national regulations on hazardous waste management, from a soon to be approved national bill mirroring the European Union Ship Recycling Regulation to the shift in policy of the countries oil and gas company Petrobras and the scrapping of Petrobras’ P-32 and P-33 in Brazil, the country stands on the cusp of radical transformation.

 

UFF plays a is crucial role in this transformation through its Center for Sustainable Systems Studies (CESS/UFF), which focuses on hazardous waste management, optimisation of recycling methods and the scrap steel market to ensure Brazil has a qualified workforce, innovation and resources needed to support its own solutions for ship recycling.

"At CESS, we are developing RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and NFC (Near Field Communication) technologies to manage hazardous waste on ships and in shipyards. Our goal is to ensure transparency and traceability in materials disposal. Specifically, we are exploring ways to automate the management of IHMs (Inventory of Hazardous Materials) on merchant vessels, offshore platforms, and abandoned ships scheduled for decommissioning, dismantling, and recycling. We are currently testing smart labels placed throughout vessels, which can be read remotely within seconds using unmanned vehicles. Additionally, we are working on a project looking at ways to destroy the hazardous characteristics of for example asbestos and glass wool by transforming them into marketable products such as glass."
Newton Pereira - Professor - Universidade Federal Fluminense
Prof. Newton Pereira with his team - © UFF

According to recent figures, dozens of fixed and floating oil and gas platforms and more than 300 large commercial ships regularly operating in Brazilian waters will be retired in the next decade. Brazil’s potential in ship recycling will be further explored by several experts, including Petrobras’ representatives and Professor Pereira, at the upcoming Ship Recycling Lab in Lisbon.

"The Lab is the perfect opportunity to discuss and present alternatives to dirty and dangerous shipbreaking. The concept of an ethical circular economy, which is the connecting thread of the event, represents the cornerstone for a cleaner industry aligned with the sustainable development goals proposed by the United Nations. I am looking forward to highlighting Brazil's initiatives and capabilities in this forum and potentially forge new collaborations."
Newton Pereira - Professor - Universidade Federal Fluminense

2nd Ship Recycling Lab

SHIP RECYCLING LAB

2nd Edition of the Ship Recycling Lab to take place in Lisbon on 9-10 October 2024

 

After the successful organisation of the first edition of the Ship Recycling Lab: Transformation Through Innovation back in 2022, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, still recognising the need for visionary solutions for ship recycling, is ready to host its second edition of the Lab on 9 -10 October 2024 in Lisbon, Portugal.

 

The event will bring together forward-thinking stakeholders from the maritime, recycling and steel sectors, financial institutions and policy makers to showcase and exchange ideas for best practices and strategies for ship demolition, design, waste management and material recovery in line with ethical circular policy goals.

 

Providing visibility to companies that have developed solutions, including innovative cutting techniques, new state-of-the-art waste handling procedures, cradle to cradle concept design, and clean steel breakthrough technologies aimed at achieving a zero-carbon steel making process, the Lab intends to set the bar for tomorrow’s ship recycling.

 

Come join us and 100+ progressive stakeholders for networking opportunities, inspiring keynote speaker sessions, thought-provoking presentations and interactive panel discussions.

 

Tickets are now on sale! Get them fast before they run out!

 

 

 

Platform News – CirclesOfLife leads the charge toward sustainable shipyard practices

EU shipyards are raising standards through circular innovation and environmental accountability

 

The CirclesOfLife project (Enhancing material CIRCularity and Lower Emissions of Shipbuilding processes in all phases OF the LIFE cycle) spearheads the charge toward sustainable shipyard practices, with EU shipyards setting higher standards through circular innovation and environmental responsibility to revolutionise the shipbuilding, repairing, and recycling industry.

 

Comprising members from shipyards, industry associations, civil society organizations, academia, and classification societies, CirclesOfLife is a consortium committed to driving progress toward circular, zero-impact shipping through collaborative efforts.

 

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, as a member of this project, is ready to share its expertise and research on innovative solutions for safe and sustainable ship recycling characterised by a cross-sectoral approach, including the implementation of a ship material passport.

 

Key project initiatives slated for development over the next three years include:

- Establishing a shipyard environmental performance index (SEPI) and ship material passport to ensure ships are constructed for longevity and sustainability, with their materials recovered and recycled according to best practices.

- Empowering shipyards to monitor, assess, benchmark, and improve their environmental footprint.

- Providing transparency and accountability for informed decision-making and driving sustainable practices.

 

The Ship Recycling Lab 2024, an upcoming event organised by the Platform to foster positive change within the sector, will present the perfect opportunity for the member of the consortium to meet and present the project to a wider audience. Grab your tickets now to be part of this transformative event.

SAVE THE DATE – 2nd Ship Recycling Lab

After the successful organisation of the first edition of the Ship Recycling Lab: Transformation Through Innovation back in 2022, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, still recognising the need for visionary solutions for ship recycling, is ready to host its second edition of the Lab on 9 -10 October 2024 in Lisbon, Portugal.

 

The event will bring together forward-thinking stakeholders from the maritime, recycling and steel sectors, financial institutions and policy makers to showcase and exchange ideas for best practices and strategies for ship demolition, design, waste management and material recovery in line with ethical circular policy goals.

 

Providing visibility to companies that have developed solutions, including innovative cutting techniques, new state-of-the-art waste handling procedures, cradle to cradle concept design, and clean steel breakthrough technologies aimed at achieving a zero-carbon steel making process, the Lab intends to set the bar for tomorrow’s ship recycling.

 

Come join us and 100+ progressive stakeholders for networking opportunities, inspiring keynote speaker sessions, thought-provoking presentations and interactive panel discussions.

 

Early bird tickets are now on sale! Get them fast before they run out!

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