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Brazil Sets Sail for Sustainable Ship Recycling

Brazil Sets Sail for Sustainable Ship Recycling

Brazil Sets Sail for Sustainable Ship Recycling

Brazil is on the verge of a significant transformation in the global ship recycling industry, according to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. With its vast coastline, robust maritime sector, and existing infrastructure, the country is poised to become a major player in sustainable ship dismantling.

A Prime Location for Sustainable Practices

Brazil boasts several advantages that make it ideal for eco-friendly ship recycling. The country’s extensive coastline provides ample space for dedicated facilities, while its established shipbuilding and repair industry offers a pool of skilled professionals and well-equipped yards. These existing resources can be readily adapted for dismantling purposes.

Professor Newton Pereira of the Federal Fluminense University (UFF) believes Brazil is well-positioned to attract ship owners seeking responsible disposal of their vessels. He emphasizes the country’s strong foundation for sustainable practices:

  • Developed Infrastructure: Existing large-scale infrastructure in key states like Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, and Pernambuco provides a solid base for establishing new recycling facilities.
  • Strict Regulations: Brazil already enforces stringent national regulations on hazardous waste management, ensuring the safe handling of harmful materials found in ships.
  • Upcoming Legislation: A national bill mirroring the European Union Ship Recycling Regulation is nearing approval. This legislation will further solidify Brazil’s commitment to environmentally sound dismantling practices.
  • Shifting Policy: The recent policy shift by Petrobras, the national oil and gas giant, to scrap its P-32 and P-33 platforms within Brazil, presents a domestic opportunity for responsible dismantling.

UFF: A Leader in Sustainable Ship Recycling Solutions

The Federal Fluminense University, through its Center for Sustainable Systems Studies (CESS/UFF), plays a pivotal role in this transformation. CESS/UFF focuses on three key areas:

  • Hazardous Waste Management: The centre works on developing innovative methods to manage and dispose of hazardous materials found in ships effectively.
  • Recycling Method Optimization: Research focuses on optimizing dismantling processes to maximize resource recovery and minimize environmental impact.
  • Scrap Steel Market Development: CESS/UFF investigates ways to ensure a robust market for recycled steel from dismantled ships.

Innovation at the Forefront

Professor Pereira highlights some of the cutting-edge technologies being developed by CESS/UFF:

  • RFID and NFC for Transparency: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC) technologies are being explored to track hazardous waste movement within ships and shipyards, promoting transparency and traceability in material disposal.
  • Automating IHM Management: CESS/UFF is developing automated systems using smart labels and unmanned vehicles to manage the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHMs) on various vessels. This will streamline the process and ensure accurate data collection.
  • Transforming Hazardous Materials: Researchers are exploring ways to neutralize the hazardous properties of materials like asbestos and glass wool, potentially transforming them into usable products like glass.

A Domestic Boom on the Horizon

Industry estimates suggest that dozens of offshore platforms and over 300 commercial ships operating in Brazilian waters are nearing retirement within the next decade. This surge in decommissioning presents a significant domestic opportunity for the newly established Brazilian ship recycling industry.

Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing on the Global Stage

Brazil’s potential in sustainable ship recycling will be further explored at the upcoming Ship Recycling Lab in Lisbon, Portugal, scheduled for October 2024. Professor Pereira, alongside representatives from Petrobras, will be among the experts participating in the event.

“The Lab is a crucial platform to discuss and showcase alternatives to harmful shipbreaking practices,” says Pereira. “The concept of an ethical circular economy, which is the core theme of the event, is vital for building a cleaner industry aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals. I look forward to sharing Brazil’s initiatives and capabilities, potentially forging new collaborations for a sustainable future.”

A Step Towards a Sustainable Future

The recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Porto Central, a Brazilian industrial port complex, and M.A.R.S., Europe A/S, a subsidiary of Modern American Recycling Services, serves as a significant step towards a sustainable ship recycling future in Brazil. This collaboration signifies growing international interest in the potential of Brazil’s burgeoning eco-friendly ship dismantling industry.

In conclusion, Brazil is poised for a remarkable transformation in the global ship recycling landscape. With its existing infrastructure, robust maritime sector, focus on sustainability, and commitment to innovation, the country is well on its way to becoming a leader in responsible ship dismantling practices.

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