Ship Recycling Loophole – updated EU List of Approved Ship Recycling Facilities


( From 31 December 2018, large commercial seagoing vessels flying the flag of an EU Member State may be recycled only in safe and sound ship recycling facilities included in the European List of ship recycling facilities (‘the European List’).

The European List was first established on 19 December 2016 and last updated on 22 January 2020 (see the updated list here). It now contains 41 yards, including 34 facilities located in 12 EU Member States and in Norway, 6 facilities in Turkey and 1 facility in the United States of America.

To be included in the European List, any ship recycling facility irrespective of its location has to comply with a number of safety and environmental requirements. In April 2016, the Commission issued technical guidelines on these requirements.

For facilities located in the EU, it is the national authorities of the Member States which indicate to the Commission which facilities located on their territory are compliant.

The Commission has received a number of applications from ship recycling facilities located in third countries. The applications are being thoroughly reviewed and site inspections conducted to check their credentials. The Commission then decides on their inclusion in the European List.

Whilst the Regulation brings forward the requirements of the 2009 Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships,  it also includes additional safety and environmental requirements. Indeed, the EU SRR sets higher standards than the IMO’s Hong Kong Convention – the beaching method is not allowed and requirements related to downstream toxic waste management as well as labour rights are included. Moreover, EU ­listed ship recycling facilities are subject to a higher level of scrutiny: there is independent third party certification and auditing, and NGOs, are allowed to submit complaints should they have concerns that a listed facility is not operating in line with the Regulation. These are important safeguards that are alarmingly absent under the Hong Kong Convention regime. EU-listing is indeed the only guarantee that a yard has been independently certified and audited up against an acceptable standard.

The following guidelines have been developed and adopted to assist States in the early implementation of the Convention’s technical standards:

2011 Guidelines for the Development of the Ship Recycling Plan, adopted by resolution MEPC.196(62);
2012 Guidelines for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling, adopted by resolution MEPC.210(63);
2012 Guidelines for the Authorization of Ship Recycling Facilities, adopted by resolution MEPC.211(63); and
-​2015 Guidelines for the development of the Inventory of the Hazardous Materials, adopted by resolution MEPC.269(68).

To ensure legal clarity and avoid administrative burden, ships covered by the new legislation will be excluded from the scope of the Waste Shipment Regulation. Non-EU flagged vessels sold for scrapping whilst in European waters will remain covered by the Waste Shipment Regulation.

European ships, as well as vessels sailing under the flag of a third country and calling at an EU port or anchorage, will furthermore be required to have on board an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM).

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) also released Guidance on Ship Recycling Port State Control inspections: Guidance on inspections of ships by the port States in accordance with Regulation (EU) 1257/2013 on ship recycling, ‘Inspections from the EU port States to enforce provisions of the ship recycling Regulation. It can be downloaded below:






The deadlines that you must meet for the preparation and verification of IHM are the following:

  1. EU-flagged newbuildings are required to have onboard a verified IHM with a Certificate of Compliance by 31 December 2015 and before 31 December 2018.
  2. Existing EU-flagged ships are required to have onboard a verified IHM with a Certificate of Compliance by 31 December 2020.
  3. Non-EU-flagged ships calling at EU ports are also required to have onboard a verified IHM with a Statement of Compliance by 31 December 2020.

The IHM consists of three parts:

  1. Part I: a list of hazardous materials referred to in Annexes I and II of EU SRR, in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 5 of EU SRR, and contained in the structure or equipment of the ship, with an indication of their location and approximate quantities.
  2. Part II: a list of the operationally generated waste present on board the ship.
  3. Part III: a list of the stores present on board the ship.

The shipping industry is difficult to regulate due to the use of flags of convenience. The majority of European shipping companies do not register their ships under the flag of an EU Member State during their operational life, and opt instead for flags of convenience. Port States have thus increasingly been seen as solution providers to fight the many substandard practices of shipping.

A major loophole of the Ship Recycling Regulation is that ship owners can circumvent the law by simply swapping their EU flag to a non-­EU flag. Major European ship owner Maersk has already threatened to flag-out from the Danish ship registry to allow the use of non-­EU approved ship-breaking facilities on the beach in India. This move has been strongly criticized by environmental NGOs and clearly illustrates why measures that go beyond Flag state jurisdiction may be put in place to hold the shipping industry accountable for environmental and social protection.








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