Press Release – EU’s leverage & insurance policy on dirty shipping needed

Environmental NGOs call upon the EU to effectively regulate ship borne pollution


From dangerous emissions in ports to hazardous scrapping on South Asian beaches, European shipping companies pollute and put people’s health and lives at serious risk. In light of the ongoing European Shipping Week and the failure of the International Maritime Organisation to find solutions, environmental experts are ringing the alarm bell and calling upon European policy makers to urgently adopt policies that effectively target the environmental performance of shipping.

"Every year approximately 50,000 people in the EU die prematurely because of air pollution from ships. While all land-based sources have been gradually regulated in recent years we still face a lack of effective emissions control measures for ships."
Daniel Rieger - NABU

Burning heavy fuel without any exhaust gas aftertreatment systems is shockingly still standard practice on open sea, despite both regulatory and technical means at hand to limit the threat to human health, environment and global climate caused by such shipping emissions. The EU must take a lead by designating all its waters as emission control areas for ship born sulphur, nitrogen and particle emissions. Such a step would not only lead to a significant uptake of cleaner fuels but also enable the use of particulate filters and nitrogen catalysts, therefore reducing air pollution levels in port cities and along shipping routes significantly. The EU must also back the growing calls [1] for an international ban on the use of heavy fuel oil by Arctic shipping by 2020.


Shipping mind-bogglingly remains the only sector of the economy not contributing to EU climate targets and yet it is uncontestably an industry responsible for emitting significant amounts of CO2. Forecasts show EU-related ship CO2 emissions will increase by 86% in 2050 compared to 1990 levels. By 2050, international shipping could be responsible for 17% of global CO2 emissions if left unregulated. Environmental NGOs therefore welcome that the European Parliament has decided to include shipping in the EU Maritime Climate Fund/ETS from 2023 if the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) fails to deliver on a global deal.

"The IMO has so far failed to give a credible response to the Paris agreement’s call for urgent action. The EU ETS will provide important leverage to ensure that the IMO finally delivers what it promised under its own roadmap. EU governments must now follow the European Parliament’s lead and agree that ship CO2 emissions must go in the EU ETS if the IMO does not act."
Faig Abbasov - Transport & Environment

Devastating human and environmental impacts are also caused by ships at the end of their operational life. European ship owners shamefully continue to top the list of companies that sell their ships for dirty and dangerous scrapping on beaches in South Asia [2]. A new EU law aims to ensure that EU-flagged ships are recycled in EU-approved facilities. However, in a system where owners can easily swap the flag of their ship and where all vessels sold to South Asia pass through the hands of cash-buyers - middle men specialising in hazardous waste trafficking - legislation based on flag state jurisdiction will be easy to circumvent.

"The scandalous shipbreaking practices of European shipping companies can only be stopped through measures that go beyond flag state jurisdiction. That is why we call on the EU to demand a ship recycling licence from all vessels visiting EU ports. EU policies need to hit where it hurts. Profits made by exploiting workers and poor environmental law enforcement in South Asia is dirty money."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

International shipping laws rest on enforcement by flags of convenience, such as those of Panama and Liberia and Paris MoU grey- and black listed flags at end-of-life. Solutions to curb dirty shipping will need to be ascertained by the EU. Since it controls 40% of the world fleet and is a major trading destination, there is no reason why the EU should be timid in this role.




[1] The Arctic Commitment, an initiative by the Clean Arctic Alliance, aims to protect Arctic communities and ecosystems from the risks posed by the use of heavy fuel oil as marine fuel. For more details see


[2] For a list of all ships sold for scrap in 2016, see



Press Release – European industry, trade unions and NGOs jointly support the EESC’s call for a financial incentive to enhance sustainable ship recycling

Today, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an own initiative opinion that calls on the European Commission to introduce an incentive that will “eliminate the abuses of irresponsible ship dismantling through a system which creates added value in an end-of-life ship”. SEA Europe, IndustriAll Europe and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform join the EESC in supporting an incentive that will make sure ships are recycled in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

"European ship recycling companies are competitive with regards to sustainability and should be encouraged by an enabling public policy that will push ship owners towards the use of these facilities as well as enhance R&D towards more cost effective solutions in Europe."
Christophe Tytgat - Secretary General - SEA Europe

The aim of a financial incentive is to make sure that ship owners use the upcoming EU list of approved ship recycling facilities and do not simply circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation by flagging out to a non-EU ship registry. The EESC opinion supports a financial incentive that recognises the responsibility of the ship owner through the ‘polluter pays principle’ and builds the cost of responsible recycling into ship operating costs.

"The social and environmental impacts of shipbreaking on the beaches of South Asia can no longer be viewed as an externality and should be accounted for in shipping companies’ individual accounts. Introducing a financial incentive at the EU level is feasible and in line with established legal principles. It also brings with it the promise of ensuring compliance with environmental and social standards aimed at improving ship recycling conditions globally."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Ensuring sustainable ship recycling fits well with the EU’s aim of achieving a truly circular economy where valuable resources are not only reused, but also recycled in a safe and environmentally sound manner. The EU list of ship recycling facilities will function as an important market differentiator for yards that have already invested in proper occupational health, safety and environmental standards.

"Shipbreaking on the beaches of South Asia is considered by the ILO as one of the world’s most dangerous jobs. Incentivising sustainable practices is necessary for the creation of decent jobs in the ship recycling sector."
Luis Colunga - Deputy General Secretary - IndustriALL Europe


SEA Europe, the European Ships and Maritime Equipment Association is the voice of the European maritime technology industry. SEA Europe promotes and supports European business enterprises which are involved in the building, construction, maintenance and repair of all types of ships and other relevant maritime structures, including the complete supply chain of systems, equipment and services.


IndustriAll European Trade Union represents 6.9 million working men and women across supply chains in manufacturing, mining and energy sectors across Europe. IndustriAll Europe aims to protect and advance the rights of these workers.


The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is a global coalition of 19 environmental, human rights and labour rights organisations working to prevent the dangerous pollution and unsafe working conditions caused when end-of-life ships containing toxic materials in their structure are freely traded in the global marketplace.


Platform News – NGO Shipbreaking Platform demands European Ship Recycling Licence

In a position paper published today, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform calls on the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States to support the introduction of a financial mechanism that will enhance safe and environmentally sound ship recycling in line with the standard set by the European Ship Recycling Regulation. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform asks the EC to develop a legislative proposal in order to implement the polluter pays principle for ship owners with a European Ship Recycling Licence.

"Ship owners are all up in arms against an EU Ship Recycling License. A surprise? No. The shipping industry has been on the go for the last 15 years trying hard to fight off regulation that would really hold them accountable for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking practices. Now it is finally time to act!"
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform therefore calls
- on the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States to support a legislative proposal that introduces an effective financial incentive in line with the polluter pays principle that supports clean and safe ship recycling;
- upon the EU and Member States to ensure that European shipping companies follow EU environmental law and do not resort to end-of-life practices that would never be allowed in Europe, in particular the dismantling of end-of-life ships in the intertidal zone of a beach;
- on Member States to support the transposition of the efforts made at the European level, that is, a quality standard for ship recycling, the EU List of approved ship recycling facilities and a financial incentive similar to the ship recycling licence, to the international level.




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 – 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 – European Union sets a global standard for sustainable ship recycling: NGOs call on shipping companies to use EU approved yards

Today, the European Commission (EC) publishes technical guidance for ship recycling facilities that want to be approved under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. The European Union (EU) mirrors with this step the call by environmental and human rights NGOs for a relocation of ship recycling to platforms that can ensure sustainable practices. Facilities that intend to be listed as EU-approved will need to ensure safe working conditions, pollution control including proper downstream waste management and enforcement of international labour rights.

"Recycling yards that want to make it on the EU list of approved facilities need to meet high environmental and safety standards. The EC is clear in its message: an unprotected beach is never going to be an appropriate place for a high-risk heavy industry involving hazardous waste management."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

According to the EU, ship recycling is an industrial activity that needs industrial methods, equipment and standards. Workers and the environment anywhere in the world have the same right to protection under the EU Regulation. Attempts by some Member States with strong shipping interests to water down the requirements of the Regulation, more specifically, to accept low-cost beaching facilities in South Asia as environmentally friendly and safe for workers in order to make it on the list, have not been successful.


The EU list of approved ship recycling facilities [1] will become a global reference point for sustainable ship recycling. It rewards the companies that already have or are willing to invest in the necessary infrastructure and the employment of fully trained workers to ensure safe and environmentally sound recycling practices. The yards responsible shipping companies such as Hapag Lloyd, Wilhelmsen, Grieg and Royal Dutch Boskalis work with in Europe, China and Turkey will most likely feature on the EU list after having provided evidence that they comply with the requirements and in some cases also having improved their practices in order to meet the European standard. By promising to clearly distinguishing good from bad practices [2], the EU list has also already prompted the establishment of new facilities that see opportunities for an increased market share.


For ship owners, the EU list will be the only guarantee that their end-of-life vessels are not causing harm to workers and the environment. Backed by ‘independent verifiers with qualifications’ and audits by the EC or agents acting on its behalf, a further important warranty lays in the right NGOs have to submit complaints and concerns to the EC regarding the functioning of a facility and with that prompt an on-site visit to establish whether the facility should be removed from the list.

"While only vessels sailing under an EU flag will be legally obliged to use an EU approved facility, any shipping company around the world with a responsible policy can use the EU listed facilities to prove their effort."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform



[1] The EU list of approved ship recycling facilities is expected to be published by the end of 2016. Applications from facilities that want to feature on the first batch of the list need to be sent to the EC by 1 July 2016.


[2] Unlike the industry driven International Maritime Organisation (IMO) the EU is not rubberstamping the unnecessarily risky activity of managing reverse logistics of ship material management on a beach.
The EU requirements go beyond the IMO’s Hong Kong Convention (HKC), a piece of law which was adopted in 2009, but so far has only been ratified by four countries and is unlikely to enter into force in due time. More than 100 global environmental and human rights organisations, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics and European policy makers have denounced the HKC for merely rubberstamping the status quo.