• 2022 May 11 16:34

    EU proposal on waste shipments can ‘level playing field’ for South Asian recycling yards, says Sea Sentinels

    Proposed changes to the EU’s Waste Shipment Regulation will bring “legal clarity” on hazardous waste exports that will benefit South Asian shipbreaking yards seeking to gain compliance with EU recycling standards, says sustainable ship recycling consultancy Sea Sentinels.

    Ships that are sold for recycling at the end of their lifetime contain dangerous substances such as asbestos and mercury as well as toxic chemicals like oil, fuel and ballast water that constitute a risk both to human health and the environment if they are not managed and disposed of properly.

    Exports of hazardous waste to non-OECD countries in EU-flagged ships being sent for recycling are banned under the Basel Convention on transboundary shipments of such waste, which has been transposed into the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EUSRR) that requires ships to be recycled at EU-compliant yards on an approved list.

    But this has not prevented a number of shipowners from circumventing the so-called Basel Ban by selling ships to cash buyers who then rename these vessels and switch them to flags of convenience.

    By using cash buyers as middlemen, shipowners can obtain higher steel prices for scrap tonnage while also theoretically avoiding legal, financial and other risks when selling their old ships for dismantling.

    This means formerly EU-flagged ships have ended up at yards not on the EU-approved list where they may be dismantled in a manner that poses the risk of toxic spills and other types of pollution to coastal ecosystems, as well as hazards to the health of workers.

    Countering this trend, Singapore-based Sea Sentinels has taken responsibility for supervision of a number of successful sustainable ship recycling projects at South Asian and other yards that have entailed ensuring safe disposal of hazardous waste in documented compliance with regulations.

    Its chief executive Rakesh Bhargava believes the EU’s proposed amendment to the Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR) would, if approved, represent “a significant step forward” as it would strongly incentivise continued improvements at these yards to gain EUSRR compliance.

    The proposal would impose stricter rules on exports of hazardous waste to non-OECD countries intended to ensure that facilities receiving this waste have been audited and can manage it sustainably.

    EU policymakers are now set to discuss the proposal this spring, with a vote due by year-end on the WSR amendment that would also result in changes to waste shipment rules under the EUSRR if it is ratified.


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