Ship recycling: from the cradle to the grave
For manufacturers of all things great and small the need to create a product that can be recycled is a major challenge.
The same challenge is a typical day-to-day issue for ship builders across the world. Designers and engineers have to take into account how new ships can be recycled in a way that is not only efficient in terms of waste, but will also not harm the environment when the ship breaking takes place.
This is a major reason for why the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships has been introduced.
About the convention
The HK Convention, which ensures recycled ships do not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety or to the environment, was adopted at a conference held in Hong Kong in May 2009 and developed with input from International Maritime Organization (IMO) member states and non-governmental organisations. On June 26, Norway became the first state to the convention when first secretary Kristin Stockman, of the Royal Norwegian Embassy to the United Kingdom, deposited Norway’s instrument of accession at the IMO headquarters.
When will it come into force?
The Hong Kong treaty will enter into force 24 months after ratification by no less than 15 states, representing 40% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, with a combined maximum annual ship recycling volume not less than 3% of their combined tonnage.
What are the requirements?
Regulations cover the following: design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships; the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements. Ships to be sent for recycling will be required to carry an inventory of hazardous materials, which will be specific to each vessel. Ships will be required to have an initial survey to verify the inventory of hazardous materials, renewal surveys during the life of the ship, and a final survey prior to recycling. Yards will be required to provide a Ship Recycling Plan, to specify the manner in which each ship will be recycled, depending on its particulars and its inventory. Parties will be required to take measures to ensure that ship recycling facilities under their jurisdiction comply with the convention.
Dubai-based firm GMS is the world’s only ISO 9001 (BVC) certified cash buyer of ships for recycling. Dr Nikos Mikelis, who is non-executive director and head of the company’s green ship recycling programme, said: “I believe that the Hong Kong Convention will be part of normality in the future, it will become a standard. If you study the convention you will see that its requirements are reasonable and doable. I believe that because shipping is progressively asking for higher standards, the recycling yards will have to oblige their clients by adopting such standards.”
The Gulf: a new ship recycling hub?
In April the Abu Dhabi-based company Khamis Al Rumaithy (Kare) revealed that it was planning to develop a deepwater ship recycling facility for vessels of up to 12,000 tonnes. Kare managing director Bob Hawke said: “We are looking at a number of coastal free zone sites. Much of Europe’s ships going for recycling are handled in Turkey. In the Far East, the ships tend to go to China. We are in between, a natural destination for all the tonnage coming out of the Middle East and Africa.”
Designed for life
Lars Oestergaard Nielsen, managing director, UAE, Oman and Qatar at Maersk Line, said the company’s new Triple-E vessel is not only unique for being the world’s largest ship but is also designed so it can be recycled. He said: “It has been built in a way you can take it apart and recycle it. It comes with a cradle to grave principle that comes with a manual for how to dismantle the ship again and make sure you don’t waste resources.”