Ahead of the closing of the European Commission’s public consultation on evaluation of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (SRR) today (7 June), the Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry has welcomed the review as a welcome opportunity to address what it calls “a significant loophole” in the SRR.
In addition to the circumvention from obligations of SRR, the fundamental problem is that while on paper the total is enough, in reality there is insufficient approved and cost-effective recycling capacity to meet the requirements of the regulation, it believes.
Ioannis Estratiou (pictured), Director of Safety & Environmental Protection at the Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM), tells SMI: “There is an urgent need to revise that regulation since, in my considered view, it fails to fulfil its purpose, namely ensuring the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.”
He explains that there are currently only 44 approved facilities under the SRR, “the majority in Europe, one in the USA, three in the UK and six in Turkey”, whereas the vast majority of recycling takes place in Asia, in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. Many EU flag ships therefore reflag to a non-EU register for their final voyage to avoid the EU regulations, thereby confounding the SRR’s objective.
Many Indian yards have applied for EU SRR approval, he adds, but are prevented from obtaining it by EU waste shipment regulations. These incorporate the Basel Convention requiring hazardous waste from OECD countries not to be imported to non-OCED countries (like India), a technicality that the Legal Services of the European Commission has been trying to find ways of dealing with but so far without success up to now.
The SDM believe that this latest review of the SRR should include a constructive dialogue among EU partners in order to make the regulation “a robust, effective and sustainable policy consideration of possible financial mechanisms to incentivise use of approved yards. Use of financial mechanisms might be considered to incentivise owners of EU-flagged ships to use approved yards, says Estratiou, rather than compelling them to do so.
On the issue of the separate Hong Kong Convention (HKC) on ship recycling, Estratiou points that this probably won’t come into force until around 2025/6 even if Bangladesh were to become a party shortly, as it has vowed to – in which case Cyprus would follow suit, he informs.
With reviews of the SRR required to take place at least every five years, the next one around 2027/8 might then be the time to discuss whether a separate EU regulation is still necessary with the HKC in place, he suggests. The big difference between the two at present is whether ‘beaching’ is a permissible method of recycling, which the SRR says isn’t, he adds.
In any event, the Cyprus SDM is sharing its view at this time in order to kick-start what it hopes will be constructive discussions among EU countries on these important matters. “For us the ultimate goal is to protect human life and the environment,” concludes Estratiou, “and to close any loopholes that prevent these objectives from being met.”