EU ship recycling rules need ‘major surgery’, not a ‘band-aid’

The EU Ship Recycling Regulation needs “major surgery”, but the current proposals offer little more than a sticking plaster, Gudrun Janssens, head of environmental and technical affairs at the Royal Belgian Shipowners Association said on the latest GMS Podcast.

Janssens believes the European Commission has “lost direction” on ship recycling after a hiatus following China’s decision to ban the import of waste. She said that a vague definition of the standards yards need to comply with has further muddied the waters for yards wishing to apply for EU approval.

Janssen told the podcast that shipowners and ship recycling facilities need “legal certainty” but that the current situation has the opposite effect, far from delivering certainty.

“With the current proposal, the commission trying to bring the Basel Ban into European legislation; we went one step forward but we’re going two steps back, and it’s creating huge legal uncertainty,” Janssens said. She reckoned few people would support the changes to the EU rules currently because they do not represent a “long term sustainable solution.”

Speaking alongside Janssens on the GMS Podcast, tanker owner Euronav’s chief financial officer Lieve Logghe called on the EU to “enable and operate a common level playing field” in the form of IMO’s Hong Kong Convention.

Logghe questioned the sense of sending a ship trading in Asia for recycling at a European yard with the resulting steel then being exported out of Europe. “From an ESG perspective, first returning your fleet for scrapping in Europe and then exporting [the steel] again doesn’t bring value to the circular economy,” she said.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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