Greater ChinaShipyards

Ship recycling association urges Beijing to rethink scrap ban

The International Ship Recycling Association (ISRA) has urged Beijing to rethink its decision to ban the import of foreign vessels to be scrapped at Chinese yards.

The People’s Republic is expected to exit from the global shipbreaking market at the end of this year following Beijing’s latest environmental edict, which bans the import of ships and offshore units for scrapping as part of a wider ban on importing a total of 16 different types of waste materials.

The development ISRA said in a statement could prove to be “challenging” for the ship recycling Industry as a whole.

“The announcement to stop importing recycle ships in China could close some of the best recycling facilities in the world that match the Hong Kong Convention and the EU ship recycling regulation requirements,” ISRA stated.

The association went on to ask Beijing to change its mind.

“China as a fast developing country and shipbuilding nation should in our opinion continue to take their producer responsibility to also continue to include ship recycling,” ISRA urged.

China’s exit from the sector will take out more than 2.5m tons of “high standard capacity” from the global ship recycling market, ISRA stated, and it can be seen as a major step back in the global development towards environmental and human safe ship recycling.

“The lost ship recycling capacity cannot be found within a short period and this could force … owners to accept lower standards. This negative trend is hard for the industry to accept and understand,” ISRA concluded.

According to data by NGO Shipbreaking Platform, China ranked the fourth in the world in 2017 in terms of shipbreaking volumes following Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The nation scrapped 2.29m gt of ships, accounting for approximately 11% of 20.7m gt scrapped worldwide in the year. Comparing with the previous year, China had an increase in the number of ships but a clear decrease in gt recycled.

A number of Indian yards have in recent years upgraded facilities to become compliant with the Hong Kong Convention, which aims to make ship recycling more environmentally friendly, while Turkey has a few yards that are deemed green.

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.


  1. Seeing the current improvements in India and number of Yards having implemented / implementing Hong Kong Convention I don´t see a negative impact for shipowners when they look for good and responsible ship recycling. The recycling capacity which is taken from the market (China) equals roughly the HKC-compliant capacity we´ve created in India during the last 4 years.

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