On Monday 20th of April 2015, Michael Grey of Lloyds List published the article “Name-calling bullies” where he outlined his opposition to the idea of banning beaching and gave reasons why such a decision would be impractical and unethical for the ship recycling industry.
In fact, throughout his article he stressed the improvements of safety and environmental standards which have taken place in facilities in the Indian subcontinent and highlighted the fact that these improvements had been witnessed during a fact-finding visit to Alang, India, by a delegation of Japanese industry and government officials organised by GMS. To quote the article directly:
“The visit, which was organised by the cash buyer Global Marketing Systems, was able to see the improvements that were being made and which could be more widely spread around the whole subcontinental recycling sector.”
In his article there are few other arguments worth highlighting, including that if the decision is taken to ban beaching, there would be a limited capacity of yards to carry out recycling; IMO’s efforts through the Hong Kong Convention to promote the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships; and the 40, 000 jobs associated with the industry of ship recycling in the Indian subcontinent.
On the 1st of May 2015, Adam Corbett wrote in TradeWinds (Volume 26 / Number 17) that “Belgium opposes the Brussels ban on beach scrapping.” Throughout his article similar opinions as the aforementioned one were expressed.
It is evident that the industry has already taken notice not only of the developments which have taken place in ship recycling facilities which practice environmentally sound beaching methods, but also of the necessity of such facilities to not be excluded from the EU regulation around ship recycling.
The Rising Standards of the Indian Subcontinent
With the raising of ship recycling standards in the Indian subcontinent spreading, and key players in the industry becoming aware of these improvements in the region, the resistance to the European Commission’s (EC’s) possible ban on beaching is steadily increasing.
Consequently, Corbett states that “In a letter to Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Belgian Environment Minister, Celine Fremault, said she was keen to see that bad practices in beaching are stopped, but explained that it would be outside the scope of the SSR (Ship Recycling Regulation) to implicitly ban one method of demolition.”
The tide seems to be turning against those who are opposed to beaching without being willing to witness the facts for themselves. It is evident that there are facilities capable of complying with internationally acceptable standards and regulations in the Indian subcontinent, and this seems to be increasingly recognised as highlighted by Celine Fremault’s statement quoted by Corbett as follows:
“We would like to formally request that all ship recycling facilities in third countries will be assessed individually, based on the requirements of the regulation and guidance in line with the regulation, taking into account the specifics of the recycling state and recycling method used.”
“Alang is not just Alang”
GMS, in coordination with a Danish Shipowner arranged for a study visit by vetting of ship recycling facilities in Alang. The visit which took place in April 2015, included representatives from the Danish Shipowners’ Association (DSA) who witnessed the ship recycling practices which are actually taking place locally.
Following up to this study visit, the Director of the DSA, Mrs Maria Bruun Skipper, wrote that “Alang is not just Alang” from which it was acknowledged that some of the yards have “undergone a positive development in order to comply with the requirements that will be set by the forthcoming Hong Kong Convention”. Going into more detail, Skipper highlighted in her article that:
“We consequently saw, among other things, workers wearing safety equipment and undergoing six-monthly routine medical check-ups. We also noted that the shipyards were engaged in operations such as asbestos handling, and regularly compiled reports from water and soil pollution tests etc. Finally, we were able to personally observe that three of the shipyards had laid a concrete base beneath the beach to stop seepage of harmful substances.”
Having witnessed the facts in Alang, it appears that the DSA has recognized the need for ratification of the Hong Kong Convention, and the necessity for the European Union to be cautious from excluding a place such as Alang because of the bad reputation historically.
Finally, it was worth highlighting that those who have visited Alang, have immediately changed their (negative) views, and this is also evident in the DSA statement, “Our visit was just one visit, but also an eye-opener that ’Alang is not just Alang”.
For more information about the DSA visit and rest of the comments please visit https://www.shipowners.dk/en/
European Commission Officials Need To Visit Improved Alang Yards
GMS would like to draw your attention to Corbett’s statement that “The EC is yet to visit breaking yards that have made significant improvements”. With that in mind, it would be encouraging to see the EU and India coordinating a direct dialogue for a fact finding mission aiming to promote cooperation and awareness, as was recently conducted between India and Japan. Of course, GMS would be willing to facilitate such a delegation at any time.
GMS and Responsible Recycling
GMS has the expertise and resources to guide owners regarding the quality of various yards in different countries, including Turkey, China and India. GMS has been actively trying to promote responsible ship recycling practices for a long time. It is therefore to our satisfaction to see that the industry is taking notice of the need to work jointly, towards encouraging continuous developments, especially when it comes to environmentally sound and friendly recycling practices. One of the best ways to achieve this is by rewarding facilities which are setting high Corporate Social Responsibility standards.
Established in 1992, GMS is the world’s largest buyer of ships, having concluded into the Indian sub-continent during 2014, more vessels and lightweight than the next four competitors combined and buying more ships on an “as is where is” basis than any other cash buyer in the world.
- It is the world’s FIRST ISO 9001 certified Cash Buyer with a proven track record spanning over two decades, and with more than 3, 000 deals under its belt, it has grown to become the leader of the ship recycling industry.
- Many of the world’s largest ship owners sell their vessels exclusively to GMS. In 2012 alone the company recycled over 16.5 million DWT (i.e. roughly 300 ships) or nearly one third of the world’s fleet sold for recycling.
- Over the years GMS has succeeded in helping to modernize the ship recycling industry and, through its efforts, has done much to strengthen the credibility and transparency of the ship recycling sector. It has invested considerable resources into green recycling and continues to support ship recycling yards around the world in both an advisory and financial capacity. To date it has been responsible for 65% of the vessels which were offered for responsible ship recycling in India. Recently, with technical assistance of GMS, four ship recycling yards in Bangladesh were able to obtain Certification for ISO 9001, 14001, 18001 and 30, 000.
- GMS is also the FIRST and ONLY Cash Buyer to develop a Green Ship Recycling Program (GSRP) together with Germanischer Lloyd (GL) to meet the highest standards of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the ship recycling industry. GMS continues to lead the ship recycling industry with innovative and practical solutions. It participated in the deliberations leading up to IMO’s Hong Kong Convention (HKC) on Safe & Responsible Ship Recycling and over the years has become the acknowledged ‘voice’ of the recycling industry in international fora.
- GMS is the only cash buyer in the world with multiple offices in the USA, Germany, Dubai, China, Singapore, and Japan as well as exclusive representatives in all five of the major recycling markets including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Turkey.
- The GMS Weekly newsletter is the most quoted and longest running report in the Ship Recycling Industry.