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

Press Release – Norwegian Altera Infrastructure fined for beaching two ships in India

Trafficking toxic ships is an international environmental crime

 

Following a raid on Altera’s office four years ago, the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim) issued a fine of NOK 8 million (approx. EUR 700,000) on 10 June to Norwegian shipping company Altera Infrastructure for having sold two vessels for scrapping India.

 

Økokrim is holding Altera Infrastructure, formerly known as Teekay Offshore, liable for the illegal export of the shuttle tankers NAVION BRITANNIA and ALEXITA SPIRIT. Both tankers were sold to cash buyer Wirana and beached in Alang, India, where they were scrapped under conditions that expose fragile ecosystems and workers to harm.

 

Police attorney Maria Bache Dahl stated that “Økokrim takes a serious view on the export of Norwegian operated end-of-life vessels to developing countries with far weaker legislation and enforcement mechanisms than what exists in Norway”. According to European and international law, hazardous waste, including end-of-life ships, cannot be exported from an EU/EFTA country to a non-OECD country under any circumstances.

 

Altera claims that they had intended to retro-fit the shuttle tankers. However, they sold the NAVION BRITANNIA and ALEXITA SPIRIT, as well as two other shuttle tankers, NORDIC SPIRIT and NAVION MARITA, to one of the most notorious cash buyers: Wirana, a scrap dealer specialised in the purchase of end-of-life vessels and known as middle-man for the South Asian beaching yards.

"The shipping industry is well aware that international environmental law, more specifically UNEP’s Basel Convention, restricts the trade of end-of-life vessels to developing countries. But because scrapping a ship on a tidal mudflat in South Asia is more profitable than doing it in a safe and environmentally sound manner in for example a dry-dock, false accounts of further operational use or repair work are provided to authorities in an attempt to avoid the law. To see that Økokrim, as well as other European enforcement agencies, are not dupe and now hold ship owners accountable for illegal waste trade is encouraging."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director & Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Altera, which has two weeks to appeal, is not the first company to face this type of charges. In recent years, several ship owners and individuals have been held liable by European Courts for violating international and European waste laws. In 2022, the Norwegian Supreme Court upheld a six month prison sentence for ship owner Georg Eide, after he attempted to illegally export of a vessel for scrapping in Pakistan. Wirana was also the cash buyer in that case and received a fine of NOK 7 million. Dutch ship owners, including  Seatrade and Jumbo, have paid similar fines, while Maran Tankers settled a compensation claim brought by the wife of a deceased Bangladeshi worker after the UK High Court confirmed that Maran Tankers likely did have an obligation to conduct due diligence when selling ships for scrap, and thus could be held liable for injury and death of workers when notoriously unsafe shipbreaking yards were selected. In the summer of 2021, the offices of several Hamburg-based ship owners were raided by the German police, and while investigations are ongoing, the Hamburg Public Prosecutor has pressed charges against three people for ship owner Peter Dohle Schiffahrts’ illegal scrapping of containership CS Discovery in India. In the UK and Iceland, cases involving another notorious cash buyer, GMS, are also still under investigation.

"Whilst enforcement officers are becoming increasingly aware of how the illegal trafficking of waste ships is conducted, it is key that EU policies are reviewed to render the enforcement of hazardous waste trade bans more effective. Existing limitations enabling police only to take action on vessels that either become waste in European waters or sail under an EU flag allow many ship owners to operate in impunity. EU laws should apply to all EU companies. The EU has an obligation to handle its own hazardous waste. The development of capacity to recycle vessels off the beach and closer to home, in line with circular economy objectives, would furthermore satisfy the increasing demand for scrap for the production of carbon accounted steel."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director & Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

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!

 

 

 

Press Release – Seatrade reaches settlement with Dutch Public Prosecution Service

Dutch ship owner Seatrade has reached a settlement with the Dutch Public Prosecution Service following the illegal export of four ships to India, Bangladesh, and Turkey for scrapping back in 2012. The agreement entails the payment of a total sum of 5,650,000 euros. Preventing further prosecution, fines totalling 2,650,000 euros were imposed on the shipping company and two of its directors, with an additional settlement of 3,000,000 euros.

 

On 15 March 2018, the District Court of Rotterdam found Seatrade and two of its directors guilty of violating the European Waste Shipment Regulation. However, this initial ruling was annulled by the Court of Appeal in The Hague on 30 June 2020, due to procedural irregularities, and a new trial was set to begin.

 

European legislation prohibits the export of toxic end-of-life ships from EU waters to non-OECD countries, and mandates specific procedures for the transboundary movements of hazardous waste within the OECD. Acknowledging their breach of existing rules applicable to ship recycling, the management of Seatrade expressed regret for the actions taken and committed to ensuring future compliance with all relevant laws.

Press Release – Norwegian ambassador undermines Norwegian law

Bellona and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, along with several stakeholders within Norway's recycling and waste industry, have sent an open letter to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment. They strongly denounce the statements made by Norway's ambassador to Bangladesh, Espen Rikter-Svendsen, who in several international media outlets has urged Norwegian shipowners to send ships there for scrapping.

"Norwegian authorities must strengthen Norwegian recycling, not shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh known for violations of human rights and pollution."
Sigurd Enge - Senior Shipping Advisor - Bellona

In the letter to Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide and Climate and Environment Minister Anders Bjelland Eriksen, it is emphasised that Norway's ambassador to Bangladesh has encouraged violations of Norwegian and European legislation.

"EU regulations require that end-of-life ships are sent for recycling only to yards approved by EU member states. None of the yards in Bangladesh are approved for recycling ships sailing under European flags or ships sailing in the EU/EEA area. Safe and environmentally friendly ship recycling cannot be conducted in the intertidal zone. Moreover, it is prohibited under Norwegian and international law to export hazardous waste to Bangladesh."
Ingvild Jenssen - Founder and Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

For many years, Bellona and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform have worked to end unethical and environmentally harmful ship scrapping on the beaches of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. The senders of the letter, which include both interest organisations and companies, aim to spotlight Norway's capacity for effective waste management and material recovery. To date, eight Norwegian yards are included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities.

 

The senders of the letter are:

  • Miljøstiftelsen Bellona
  • NGO Shipbreaking Platform
  • Norsk Industri
  • Avfall Norge
  • Norsk Forening for Farlig Avfall (NFFA)
  • NG Group
  • Stena Recycling
  • Green Yard
  • Fosen Gjenvinning
  • Norscrap
  • AF Offshore Decom

Press Release – Worst corporate dumpers asked to clean up their acts

Targeting sustainability and fleet managers, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform calls for the adoption of responsible ship recycling policies in letters sent to shipping companies standing out for their particularly poor shipbreaking practices, as revealed in the Platform’s Annual Dumpers List. [1]

 

The letters recall the irreversible environmental and human health impacts caused by the scrapping of end-of-life vessels on tidal beaches, and stress the sharp contrast with the strict hazardous waste management regulations enforced in major ship-owning countries. 

 

In an ongoing effort to rouse sector decision-makers from what appears to be a pervasive disregard of environmental regulation compliance, the Platform provides an overview of the international and regional legal frameworks governing ship recycling, including obligations to ensure environmentally sound management under UNEP’s Basel Convention. Highlighting the deficiencies of relying on the so-called Statements of Compliance with the upcoming Hong Kong Convention, the letters also underscore the significance of recently adopted legislation, such as the new UAE Ship Recycling Regulation, which prohibits beaching and landing.

"Constructive dialogue with shipping companies is paramount to incentivise the use of existing facilities that already provide safer and cleaner recovery operations. Collaboration with tech start-ups looking at ways to automate the sector and the scrap-hungry steel industry provides a way for ship owners to align their sustainability strategies with ethical material recovery, and will incentivise the development of capacity and infrastructure to transition ship recycling towards safe and green jobs."
Benedetta Mantoan - Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In the spirit of transparency, the Platform is also reaching out to the corporate dumpers’ shareholders to raise awareness about the end-of-life practices of their portfolio businesses. [2]

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] List of targeted companies:

A.P. Moller-Maersk (Maersk), COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Company), Dae Bok Shipping Co Ltd, Dae Yang Shipping Co Ltd, Daiichi Tanker Co Ltd, Danaos Shipping Co Ltd, Eurobulk Ltd, Evergreen Marine Corp, Golar LNG Ltd, Green Reefers, Hahn & Company, Hartmann AG, JFE Holdings Inc, Korea Line Corporation, Lavinia Corp, Marmaras Navigation Ltd, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), Meratus Line PT, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, NYK Line, Sinokor Merchant Marine Co Ltd, Taiwan Navigation Co. Ltd, Tanto Intim Line PT, Transworld Group.

 

[2] In 2018, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund decided to exclude the shipping company Evergreen from their investment portfolio as Evergreen’s scrapping practices were seen to cause an “unacceptable risk that [Evergreen] contribute to serious environmental damage and gross human rights violations”.

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!

Press Release – Union Bay residents still fighting against hazardous shipbreaking

Three years after initial protests and warnings, the infamous shipbreaking company Deep Water Recovery Ltd (DWR) persists in scrapping vessels at Union Bay, Canada, in blatant violation of international and national rules and standards.

 

Despite multiple violations flagged by local authorities, DWR is dismantling the asbestos-laden NOAAS Miller Freeman and NOAAS Surveyor at Baynes Sound. Local residents, who have strongly and repeatedly opposed these hazardous operations, are now again urging government officials to intervene and protect the health of local communities and the marine environment.

 

In light of the documented environmental contamination and the ongoing disregard for basic safety practices at the workplace, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform fully supports the call for the immediate shutdown of the shipbreaking site in Union Bay and the initiation of a comprehensive site remediation.

 

Recent photo of DWR site

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.