Wednesday Blog: (ship) breaking the cycle

Industry must work together to create best environmental practices.


When Norway became the first contracting state to sign up to the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships it signaled the industry’s new approach to ship breaking and recycling.

There is no doubt that the breaking of ships is a hazardous task, not just for the environment impact but also for the workers in the yards. These concerns are the main aspects for why the HK Convention has been introduced.

Entering into force 24 months after ratification by no less than 15 states, the convention’s regulations cover the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling.

It was in an interview with Dr Nikos Mikelis, non-executive director Dubai-based firm GMS and head of the company’s green ship recycling programme, when I found out about new recycling principles taking place in shipyards in Bangladesh.

Dr Mikelis showed me pictures of workers constructing new ship builds with materials direct from old ships. He suggests that this is a unique activity and the photo above shows a new building together with another one that is approaching completion. He said he heard of ship scrap plate being used in Bangladesh for such work but he thinks these are the first photos that show this unique activity.

This concept not only shows great innovation, but an idea that will surely be adopted across the world.

Innovation is such a buzz-term, but without the ‘I-word’ modern-day ideas and concepts would never materialise.

It is on this note that if the shipping industry is going to fully conform with the HK Convention, then the workers and managers of the yards, such as the one in Bangladesh, should be fully consulted on new ideas and practices.

Conventions such as the HK treaty will only truly work if the whole industry works together.


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