Maersk responds to Alang jibes, takes aim at EC

Maersk Group has responded to criticism by NGOs over its changed ship recycling stance to take a swipe at the European Commission.

Yesterday, the Clean Shipping Coalition, a group of NGOs, said in a release that the Danish line’s decision to avoid European environmental law on ship recycling by flagging ships to non-EU flags “seriously undermines its credibility as a responsible ship operator”.

Up until last month Maersk had been recycling mainly in China where ships are not beached and the dismantling is viewed as more environmentally friendly. However, following many trips to Alang in India to study which yards there are capable of recycling ships in a more environmentally friendly fashion, Maersk dispatched two elderly boxships there last month.

Maersk’s decision to resort to the low-cost method of beaching and to flagging out its ships beforehand undermines not only the company’s position as a responsible industry leader, but also European efforts to improve global conditions, the Clean Shipping Coalition said.

Recent technical guidelines for ship recycling facilities issued by the European Commission stress that a beach is not an appropriate place for a high-risk heavy industry involving hazardous waste management.

Sotiris Raptis, shipping officer at NGO Transport & Environment, said Maersk’s Alang decision showed “a cavalier attitude” towards the environmental impacts of dismantling ships in the intertidal zone.

However, Maersk has hit back. Head of group sustainability Annette Stube told Splash: “The aim of the EU legislation should be to raise the standards where the vast majority of the world fleet is recycled. This is by no means accomplished by the suggested legislation as it fails to support the development and improvement we have witnessed in Alang. We strongly encourage the EU Commission to reconsider its position as an unfortunate consequence of the suggested legislation is the exclusion of the yards where more than 70% of the world’s fleet are recycled.”


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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