• ITVI.USA
    14,293.460
    37.930
    0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.590
    -0.070
    -0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    14,281.460
    36.060
    0.3%
  • TLT.USA
    2.780
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.650
    -0.300
    -10.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.280
    -0.100
    -3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.460
    -0.040
    -2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.490
    -0.200
    -7.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.970
    0.010
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.990
    -0.310
    -9.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    14,293.460
    37.930
    0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.590
    -0.070
    -0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    14,281.460
    36.060
    0.3%
  • TLT.USA
    2.780
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.650
    -0.300
    -10.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.280
    -0.100
    -3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.460
    -0.040
    -2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.490
    -0.200
    -7.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.970
    0.010
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.990
    -0.310
    -9.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    0.000
    0%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Maersk, NGOs clash over plan to improve ship recycling in India

Maersk Line said in a recent statement it would work with Indian authorities to help improve facilities in Alang, but Patrizia Heidegger, executive director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, says the move is cost-driven.

   The Maersk Group will help selected ship recycling yards in Alang, India, a center of the shipbreaking industry, upgrade facilities and practices to comply with its standards for breaking ships, the company said in a statement earlier this week.
   The Danish shipping conglomerate “is determined to use its leverage to create more responsible recycling options,” said Maersk.
   “The market for ship recycling is dominated by practices unchanged for decades. Out of the total 768 ships recycled globally in 2015, 469 – representing 74 percent of the total gross tonnage scrapped – were sold to facilities on beaches in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh with challenges to workers and the environment,” the company said.
   Maersk’s official policy is “to only recycle ships responsibly. There has, however, been no change in practices in this area and today, responsible recycling is only feasible in a limited number of yards in China and Turkey,” says Annette Stube, head of sustainability at Maersk Group.
   The company estimates it costs an addition $1 million to $2 million to responsibly recycle ships at existing yards.
   At the same time, Maersk said, “Steady improvements of conditions have been witnessed in ship recycling yards in Alang in the last couple of years and today a total of four yards in Alang are certified to the standards of the International Maritime Organisation and Hong Kong Convention.”
   Maersk said that after visiting upgraded beaching facilities in Alang in 2015, it has “concluded that responsible recycling can be accelerated in the area, if the engagement is made now.”
   “We want to play a role in ensuring that responsible recycling becomes a reality in Alang, India. To find sustainable solutions, we are working on building a broader coalition with other ship owners and have initiated engagement with a number of carefully selected yards in Alang,” said Stube.
   “This includes improving local waste facilities and hospitals – and upgrading the housing conditions for the migrant workers in Alang.”
   Maersk said it would engage “in the development of sustainable ship recycling on the long term and will in the coming years work directly with selected certified yards in Alang to further upgrade their facilities and practices to comply with the company’s standards.”
   Maersk’s announcement, however, was denounced by two groups, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and Transport and Environment.
   “It is hypocritical to see Maersk’s engagement in India presented proudly in the company’s CSR Report as one that aims at promoting higher standards. The fact is that they are already selling ships now to facilities that operate under conditions that would not be allowed in Europe – they admit themselves that the decision to go to India is primarily taken to make their financial report look better,” said Patrizia Heidegger, executive director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
   She said Maersk is “rubberstamping practices that they previously denounced.”
   “In times of low freight rates, Maersk intends to boost its profits by selling to yards that do not comply with European standards,” the group complained..
   “All yards in Alang dismantle vessels in the intertidal zone,” NGO Shipbreaking Platform said. “This means that ships are broken in an unprotected marine environment – a method which has been identified at the international level as one that needs to be phased-out and that European law has banned. Environmental concerns remain linked to the abrasion of toxic paints during the beaching process and when cut-off blocks and hulls are winched further up the beach, oil spills and the release of slag and paints chips into the water, and the debris created by the gravity method when blocks crash down on the intertidal zone.”
   It also said “working and living conditions in Alang remain inadequate.”
   “The lack of decent accommodation will not be solved before the first Maersk vessels arrives in Alang, nor will there be access to a proper hospital specialised in accidents and burn wounds. Maersk seems also to ignore the lacunae of proper downstream waste management in India: asbestos-containing materials can and are re-sold freely and PCBs cannot be properly destroyed. These issues are not dealt with by the Hong Kong Convention – for European Union approval these problems will however need to be addressed.”

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.