Global warming, pollution and deforestation are some of the problems routinely discussed since they pose a major threat to nature. Every year, 22 April is observed as Earth Day across the globe and people and major stakeholders take part in civic activities and work towards raising awareness about critical issues that the Earth is facing. This makes the day as the largest civic observance in the world, argues Mr Rohit Agarwal, Managing Partner at GUIDESHIP CONSULTING SERVICES LLP, discussing what needs to be considered with ship recycling.
he theme this year is “Restore Our Earth” and its focus is on natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. And therefore, the theme also rejects the belief that only mitigation and adaptation are the ways to address climate change.
Society is increasingly concerned with environmental issues, especially, but certainly not only, in European countries. As a consequence, reducing the environmental impact is needed to maintain business continuity and companies need to demonstrate a level of commitment to reduce their environmental impact.
One of the focus points of the NGOs has been to uphold the principles of the Basel Convention and stop ‘export’ of EU owned and flagged vessels to non-OECD countries. This somewhat orthodox viewpoint, based on state boundaries, has not led to any real change over the past decade, neither has it been taken seriously by industry stakeholders, not even by the ones that can be considered as frontrunners. NGOs would be more effective with a balanced viewpoint.
They should provide the conditions under which non-OECD recycling is acceptable. What type of facilities are required, what technologies for dismantling should be used, how should the waste be managed downstream from the recycling yards and what should the control mechanisms look like? Such a more proactive NGO strategy will place the NGOs more at the center of the discussions and enables them to exert more influence to realize on the ground changes.
The main constraining factors are the fact that pollution is inherent to dismantling of an old ship due to the material composition of ships, the incompatibility and unwanted effects of regulatory frameworks, financial disincentives, a lack of knowledge about materials management, and the lack of information and knowledge exchange along the lifecycle of the ship, especially between shipbuilders and ship recyclers.
It is expected that state-based rule making alone will not bring ecological modernization of the ship recycling industry. A market-oriented approach is needed with incentives for environmentally and socially acceptable recycling of vessels. For the highly price driven shipping and ship recycling industry, it is a challenging, but highly necessary task to balance economics with ecology. A chain-oriented business approach with collaboration between stakeholders along the entire shipping chain over a long time period is needed, from shipbuilders to recyclers. A range of other stakeholder should be involved in creating the right conditions.
Customers should provide a competitive advantage for shipowners and ship recyclers with a clean recycling policy, financiers should invest in responsible companies only, insurance companies can provide discounts on companies with a good CSR policy. NGO´s should assist in sharing environmental knowledge and mobilize negative media pressure for the bad and positive for the good. Policymakers should provide the legal framework so that the laggards are disadvantaged. Technological innovations in both shipbuilding and ship recycling, better materials management in order to develop fully closed industrial cycles, will lead to a shorter recycling time. In this ideal picture, extra value gets unlocked from the vessel while minimizing environmental impact. Environmental risks are no longer a constraint but are converted into business opportunities.
The ship recycling industry will eventually be colored with a dark shade of green.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.