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Investments in recycling facilities should be rewarded, irrespective of geography

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Patrick Verhoeven

Patrick Verhoeven

The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) welcome the fact that the classification society ClassNK has issued statements of compliance to two ship recycling facilities in India and, thus, verified that the facilities are in line with the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (HKC) (for details see here).

Commenting on the move, Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General said: “It is extremely positive to see that Indian yards are taking an active approach to compliance with the international standards on safe and environmentally sound ship recycling even before the rules are implemented. ECSA firmly believes that such initiatives should be further encouraged, including by the European Commission. Hopefully, more companies will follow soon.”

For the first time statements of compliance have been issued to ship recycling facilities, namely Kalthia Ship Breaking Pvt. Ltd. and Priya Blue Industries Pvt. Ltd, in South Asia. Class NK concluded that both yards carried out substantial improvements to their facilities in a bid toward safer and greener ship recycling as well as developed the Ship Recycling Facility Plans.

“ECSA congratulates the two yards in question. We truly hope that this will be a strong signal not only towards the Indian authorities but also towards the IMO and the European Commission. Ultimately the overarching aim of the HKC and the EU Ship Recycling Regulation is to raise the bar globally” added Mr Verhoeven.

The Hong Kong Convention (HKC) is yet to enter into force, due to a lack of ratifications by IMO member states. Recently, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Spain have made significant progress towards ratification, a move that ECSA warmly welcomes. “We are heartened by the decision of these EU Member States to ratify the convention and we use this opportunity to encourage others to follow suit. There is no reason for Member States not to ratify this international Convention. The EU cannot operate in isolation when over 60% of all vessels are recycled in South Asia” he continued.

Indeed, whilst the European list of approved recycling facilities is continuously delayed, recycling facilities around the globe are already positioning themselves to receive the EU’s stamp of approval. European shipowners welcome this development and hope that the European Commission will acknowledge it accordingly. But this work may be jeopardised if the Commission does not trust the assessment made by ClassNK and decides not to include such Indian pilot projects simply on grounds of method or geography.

The key role of classification societies in this debate

The shipping industry is heavily dependent on the work of classification societies. As an independent, self-regulating, externally audited, body, a classification society has no commercial interests related to ship design, ship building or ship ownership. Classification societies verify compliance with internationally agreed rules during the full lifecycle of a vessel. Classification societies are external auditors for the shipping industry and a standard part of the verification process of safety and environmental legislation.

“When it comes to ship recycling, both international and European regulators have underlined the important role of classification societies in the assessment of the recycling facilities”, said Benoît Loicq, ECSA Safety and Environment Director, “We believe that in the case of Kalthia and Priya Blue, ClassNK’s assessment is extremely valuable and useful. We therefore invite the European Commission to engage in a dialogue with classification societies specifically on ship recycling to ensure that the European list of approved recycling facilities does not base itself on assumptions but rather on-site inspections.”

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