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.

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #36

In this quarterly publication, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of accidents that took place on the beaches of South Asia and recent on-the-ground developments, including our activities, we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights. 

 

Click here or on the image below to access the full version of our quarterly report. 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #35

In this quarterly publication, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of accidents that took place on the beaches of South Asia and recent on-the-ground developments, including our activities, we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights. 

 

Click here or on the image below to access the full version of our quarterly report. 

Bangladesh: shipping firms profit from labour abuse

BANGLADESH: SHIPPING FIRMS PROFIT FROM LABOUR ABUSE

EU should revise law to promote safe, sustainable ship recycling

 

A new report released by Human Rights Watch and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform finds that Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards often take shortcuts on safety measures, dump toxic waste directly onto the beach and the surrounding environment, and deny workers living wages, rest, or compensation in case of injuries. The report reveals an entire network used by shipowners to circumvent international regulations prohibiting the export of ships to facilities like those in Bangladesh that do not have adequate environmental or labor protections.

 

 

 

Press Release – Bangladesh: shipping firms profit from labour abuse

EU should revise law to promote safe, sustainable ship recycling

 


- Many European shipping companies are knowingly sending their end-of-life ships for scrap in dangerous and polluting yards in Bangladesh.

 

- Companies scrapping ships in Bangladesh’s yards use loopholes in international rules to profit at the expense of Bangladeshi lives and the environment.

 

- Shipping companies should invest in building stable platform facilities at a standard that fully protects workers’ rights and handles waste disposal. The EU should revise its rules to close loopholes.


Many European shipping companies are knowingly sending their end-of-life ships for scrap in dangerous and polluting yards in Bangladesh, Human Rights Watch and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform said in a report released today.

 

The 90-page report “Trading Lives for Profit: How the Shipping Industry Circumvents Regulations to Scrap Toxic Ships on Bangladesh’s Beaches” finds that Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards often take shortcuts on safety measures, dump toxic waste directly onto the beach and the surrounding environment, and deny workers living wages, rest, or compensation in case of injuries. The report reveals an entire network used by shipowners to circumvent international regulations prohibiting the export of ships to facilities like those in Bangladesh that do not have adequate environmental or labor protections.

"Companies scrapping ships in Bangladesh’s dangerous and polluting yards are making a profit at the expense of Bangladeshi lives and the environment. Shipping companies should stop using loopholes in international regulations and take responsibility for safely and responsibly managing their waste."
Julia Bleckner - Senior Asia Researcher - Human Rights Watch

The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, which will enter into force in 2025, should be strengthened to ensure a safe and sustainable ship recycling industry, the groups said. Countries should adhere to existing international labor and environmental laws regulating the disposal of ships, including the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.
 
The report draws on interviews with 45 shipbreaking workers and workers’ relatives and 10 doctors and experts on ship recycling and Bangladesh environmental and labor laws, as well as analysis of public shipping databases, company financial reports and websites, Bangladesh maritime import records, and leaked import certificates. Human Rights Watch wrote to 21 companies seeking a response to our findings, including shipbreaking yards, shipping companies, flag registries, and cash buyers as well as the International Maritime Organization and four Bangladeshi government agencies.
Bangladesh is a top destination for scrapping ships. Since 2020, approximately 20,000 Bangladeshi workers have ripped apart more than 520 ships, far more tonnage than in any other country.
 
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has described shipbreaking as one of the world’s most dangerous jobs. Workers consistently said that they are not provided with adequate protective equipment, training, or tools to safely do their jobs. Workers described using their socks as gloves to avoid burning their hands as they cut through molten steel, wrapping their shirts around their mouths to avoid inhaling toxic fumes, and carrying chunks of steel barefoot.
 
Workers described injuries from falling chunks of steel or being trapped inside a ship when it caught fire or pipes exploded. Lack of accessible emergency medical care at shipyards meant that, in many cases, workers were forced to carry their injured coworkers from the beach to the road and find a private vehicle to take them to a hospital. In Bangladesh, the life expectancy for men in the shipbreaking industry is 20 years lower than the average. As a 31-year-old worker said, “If I am distracted for even a moment in the place where I work, I could die immediately.”
 
A 2019 survey of shipbreaking workers estimated that 13 percent of the workforce are children. Researchers noted, however, that this number jumps to 20 percent during illegal night shifts. Many workers interviewed began working at about age 13.
Shipbreaking workers said that they are often denied breaks or sick leave, even when they are injured on the job, violating Bangladesh labor laws. In most cases, workers are paid a fraction of what they are legally entitled to under Bangladesh’s minimum wage regulations for shipbreaking workers. Workers are rarely given formal contracts, which means that yard owners can cover up worker deaths and injuries. When workers attempt to unionize or protest conditions, they are fired and harassed.
 
Shipyards in Bangladesh use a method called “beaching” in which ships sail full steam onto the beach during high tide to be taken apart directly on the sand instead of using a dock or contained platform. Since the work is done directly on the sand, the worksite itself is full of hazards and toxic waste is dumped directly into the sand and sea. Toxic materials from the vessels, including asbestos, is handled without protective equipment and in some cases sold on the second-hand market, affecting health in surrounding communities.

International and regional laws prohibit the export of ships to places like the yards in Bangladesh that do not have adequate environmental or labor protections. Yet many shipping companies have simply found ways to circumvent regulations and avoid culpability, Human Rights Watch and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform said.
 
Ships sailing under an EU flag are required to recycle their ships in an EU-approved facility, none of which are in Bangladesh. Companies avoid the requirements by using a “flag of convenience” from another country.
 
Flags of convenience are sold by flag registries which, in many cases, are private companies operating in a different country from their flag state. In 2022, while over 30 percent of the world’s end-of-life fleet was owned by European companies, less than 5 percent had an EU flag when they were sold for scrap.
 
Shipping companies hoping to dump their ships in Bangladesh usually sell their ship to a scrap dealer called a cash buyer. In many cases, the buyer uses a shell company during its sale to scrapyards in Bangladesh, making it difficult to track the entity that actually controls and benefits from the sale.
 
A lack of enforcement of international laws and regulatory standards further enables ships to be scrapped under dangerous and environmentally damaging conditions. Waste declarations for ships imported to Bangladesh are often completed without any oversight, transparency, or clear accreditation, with potentially fatal consequences. Exporting countries outright ignore the requirements under the Basel Convention to obtain prior informed consent from the importing country and to ensure that end-of-life ships are only sent to countries with sufficient capacity for environmentally sustainable management of toxic waste.
 
While the International Maritime Organization (IMO), shipping companies, and shipbreaking yards promote the Hong Kong Convention as the solution to a safe and sustainable ship recycling industry, experts and activists have long-lamented major gaps in the convention that weaken its ability to provide an adequate level of regulation.

 

Instead of investing time and resources in greenwashing unsafe practices, companies should invest in proven safe methods of ship recycling, and they should stop insisting that beaching ships is safe, Human Rights Watch and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform said.
 
To ensure global capacity to safely recycle the projected massive influx in end-of-life ships over the next decade, shipping companies should invest in building stable platform facilities at a standard that fully protects workers’ rights and include mechanisms for the downstream management and disposal of waste, Human Rights Watch and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform said. The EU should revise its Ship Recycling Regulation to effectively hold shipping companies liable and stop them from circumventing the law.

"Taking ships apart on tidal mudflats exposes workers to unacceptable risks with fatal consequences and causes irreparable damage to sensitive coastal ecosystems. The cost of sustainable ship recycling must be borne by the shipping sector, not people and the environment in Bangladesh."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

CONTACTS

 

For Human Rights Watch, in Nairobi, Julia Bleckner (English): +1-917-890-4195 (mobile); or blecknj@hrw.org

 
For NGO Shipbreaking Platform, in Brussels, Ingvild Jenssen (English, French, Norwegian) +32-485-190-920 (mobile); or ingvild@shipbreakingplatform.org.

 
For Human Rights Watch, in London, Meenakshi Ganguly (English, Bengali, Hindi): +91-9820-036-032 (mobile); or gangulm@hrw.org. Twitter: @mg2411

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #34

In this quarterly publication, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of accidents that took place on the beaches of South Asia and recent on-the-ground developments, including our activities, we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights. 

 

Click here or on the image below to access the full version of our quarterly report. 

Press Release – NGOs organise event on sustainable maritime transport on 31 May in Lisbon

On 31 May, between 2PM and 7:30PM, the NGOs ZERO, Sciaena, NGO Shipbreaking Platform and Circular Economy Portugal are organising the conference “Waves of change: towards circular and sustainable shipping" at Casa do Impacto in Lisbon. The international event will focus on the sustainability and circularity of the maritime sector, focusing on the entire ship’s life cycle. 

 

Regulating shipping currently presents the greatest challenges on the path to decarbonisation of the transport sector.  Truly sustainable approaches, encompassing circular economy principles, need to be applied to guarantee positive changes, such as a lower demand for raw materials, a global improvement in air quality, the prevention of the spreading of invasive species, and the reduction of noise pollution. Stakeholders representing civil society, industry and public bodies will prompt a constructive debate on these topics, highlighting various holistic solutions for the future of maritime transport. 

 

The event will be held in English and will include three panel discussions on ship design and ship building, ships’ operations and ship recycling, and a networking session. Registration is free, but mandatory through the link available here. Virtual attendance is not possible.

 

Contacts

Carolina Silva (ZERO) - +351 961077412

Ana Matias (Sciaena) - +351 915684976

 

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #33

In this quarterly publication, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of accidents that took place on the beaches of South Asia and recent on-the-ground developments, including our activities, we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights. 

 

Click here or on the image below to access the full version of our quarterly report. 

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.