Shipping giant Maersk Group has been called out by a coalition of NGOs over its decision to start sending more of its end-of-life vessels to shipbreaking yards in Alang, India where ships continue to be dismantled using the beaching method.
The Clean Shipping Coalition, made up of nine international NGOs and focussed exclusively on shipping issues, says that Maersk is “undermining its reputation” as a market leader and is accusing the Danish conglomerate of using flags of convenience to circumvent European environmental laws on ship recycling.
“Maersk is a European company and should abide by European laws,” said John Maggs, senior policy advisor at Seas At Risk and president of the Clean Shipping Coalition. “Suggesting that it might use a flag of convenience to escape EU ship breaking rules designed to protect the environment and worker safety is scandalous, and will seriously undermine its credibility as a responsible ship owner and operator.”
The backlash is in response to Maersk decision to send more of its ships to select yards in Alang for scrapping under a new company plan aimed at developing more responsible recycling options. By sending ships to only responsible yards in Alang, i.e. ones that have been certified to the standards of the IMO’s Hong Kong Convention, Maersk estimates that it could save as much as $1 to $2 million per vessel compared to using the limited number of yards in currently available in China and Turkey. In May, Maersk sent its first two vessels to Alang to be scrapped under the policy.
“Recent technical guidelines for ship recycling facilities issued by the European Commission make it clear that a beach is not an appropriate place for a high-risk heavy industry involving hazardous waste management,” the Clean Shipping Coalition said in a statement issued Tuesday. “While only vessels sailing under an EU flag will be legally obliged to use an EU approved facility, the NGOs have called for all shipping companies around the world with a responsible policy to use EU-approved facilities to show that they are recycling vessels responsibly.”
Sotiris Raptis, shipping officer at Transport & Environment, one of nine members of the Clean Shipping Coalition, said: “While Maersk supports innovation in reducing air polluting emissions, this move shows a cavalier attitude towards the environmental impacts of dismantling ships in the intertidal zone. Maersk needs to reverse course on practices that it previously denounced and that would never be allowed in Europe.”