10 August 2016

Debate over ship recycling efforts brewing:

Shippers group reject EC recommendation that vessels should have ship recycling license.

A report calling for any vessel calling at any EU port have a ship recycling license has failed to generate support by the shipping industry.

The report, Financial instrument to facilitate safe and sound ship recycling, was written by Ecorys, DNV-GL and the Erasmus University School of Law. The report, submitted and recommended by the European Commission, looks into the possibility of introducing a financial incentive to enhance safe and environmentally sound ship recycling practices. The report notes that requiring a recycling license would incentivize sustainable ship recycling efforts. The steps also would introduce a provide a safe and environmentally sound recycling policy by many companies.

According to the report, 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 E.U.

The 2013 EU Ship Recycling Regulation requires all vessels sailing under an EU flag to use an approved ship recycling facility. A major shortcoming of the regulation, however, is that ship owners can circumvent the law by simply flagging out to a non-E.U. flag.

The report notes, “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.”

“EU shipping companies should not circumvent E.U. environmental laws and not utilize practices that would never be allowed in Europe,” says Sotiris Raptis, shipping and aviation officer at the environmental group Transport and Environment. “EU flag-neutral measures, which apply equally to all ships calling at E.U. ports, are necessary to increase environmental protection.”

“We call on the European Commission to follow-up this report with a legislative proposal,” says Stephane Arditi, Products & Waste Policy Manager of the European Environmental Bureau. “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.”

To be effective in terms of recycling behavior, the capital amount would need to bridge the revenue gap between the revenues for a ship owner opting for ship recycling in compliance with the Ship Recycling Regulation and the situation in which the ship owner opts for the more lucrative option of non-regulation-compliant ship recycling.

However, ship owners have rejected the proposals put forth in the report. In a statement, the ship owners claimed that the licenses would undermine efforts made by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

In its statement, the ship owners group note that if proposals to establish an EU ship recycling fund were taken forward, they would cause serious problems with the EU’s trading partners, including China, India, Japan and the United States.

The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) – which represent more than 80% of world merchant tonnage – insist that the concept of the ship recycling license, developed by consultants for the European Commission, must be firmly rejected.

According to a proposal now being considered by the EC, the money that visiting ships would have to pay into a proposed EU Fund, including those flying the flag of non-EU nations, would only be returned at the end of the vessel’s working life, many years later, when it will probably have a different owner, and only on condition that the ship is recycled at a yard approved by the European Commission.

“As well as being unduly complex, widely impractical and very difficult for the EU to administer, the establishment of such a fund will be an affront to the international community, which has adopted the Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling, whose standards have already been incorporated into a similar EU Regulation” says ECSA Secretary General, Patrick Verhoeven.

ICS Secretary General Peter Hinchliffe adds, “Such a draconian unilateral measure, especially if applied to non-EU ships, is likely to be seen by EU trading partners as anti-competitive interference into the conduct of international shipping. There is a real danger that other nations would apply retaliatory measures.”

ECSA and ICS argue that the EU should concentrate its efforts on getting EU Member States to ratify the IMO Hong Kong Convention, and to recognize the efforts being made by recycling yards in Asia to gain certification in accordance with IMO standards. They insist these yards should be given a fair chance to be included in the EU list of approved recycling facilities that is being established under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation.

Source: recycling today. 12 July 2016

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