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EU Ship Recycling Regulations Under Review: Potential Changes and Impact on Asian Yards

The World of Ship Recycling: A Look at Industry Leaders: Challenges and the Future

EU Ship Recycling Regulations Under Review: Potential Changes and Impact on Asian Yards

The European Commission’s review of its Ship Recycling Regulations (EUSRR) is nearing completion, with results expected in the second quarter of 2024. This review holds significant implications for the future of shipbreaking practices, particularly concerning the potential for EU-flagged ships to be dismantled in Asian yards.

The Context: A Decade of EU Regulations and the Hong Kong Convention

The EUSRR was implemented in 2013 as a response to the slow adoption of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Hong Kong Convention, which aimed to establish global standards for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling. However, the Hong Kong Convention lacked sufficient ratifications to enter into force at the time.

The EUSRR mandated that all EU-flagged ships exceeding 500 gross tonnage (GT) reaching their end-of-life must be recycled in facilities approved by the EU. These facilities adhere to strict environmental and worker safety standards. Additionally, since December 2020, all existing EU-flagged ships and non-EU ships calling at EU ports are required to maintain an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM), detailing the location and quantity of hazardous materials onboard.

Five Years Later: Reviewing the Effectiveness of EUSRR

After five years of operation, the EU initiated a review of the EUSRR in 2023 to assess its effectiveness in achieving its intended goals. The review involved a public consultation period that concluded in June 2023, receiving 16 submissions containing various perspectives and suggestions.

Potential Changes and Their Impact on Asian Yards

While the specific contents of the review’s findings remain unknown, several factors suggest potential changes to the EUSRR and their subsequent impact on Asian shipbreaking practices:

  • The Hong Kong Convention’s Entry into Force: The Hong Kong Convention finally entered into force in September 2023, establishing a global framework for ship recycling. This development could potentially lead to the harmonization of regulations and the recognition of compliant facilities outside the EU list.
  • EU’s Shifting Stance on Waste Shipment Regulation: The EU is reportedly considering revisions to its Waste Shipment Regulation, which currently restricts the export of waste, including ships, for recycling in certain non-OECD countries. A relaxation of these restrictions could pave the way for EU-flagged ships to be legally recycled in compliant Asian yards.

Uncertainties and Remaining Questions

The outcome of the EUSRR review and its potential impact on Asian shipbreaking practices remain uncertain. Key questions to consider include:

  • What specific changes will be proposed in the review?
  • Will the changes encourage or discourage the use of Asian shipbreaking facilities?
  • How will the revised regulations interact with the Hong Kong Convention and the EU Waste Shipment Regulation?

It is crucial to monitor the review’s findings and subsequent policy decisions to understand their implications for the future of ship recycling practices, particularly concerning the potential involvement of Asian yards in dismantling EU-flagged vessels.

Additional Considerations

Beyond the regulatory landscape, other factors will continue to influence the use of Asian shipbreaking facilities:

  • Capacity and Availability of Compliant Yards: The availability of sufficient and geographically accessible compliant shipbreaking facilities, both within and outside the EU, will play a crucial role in determining the feasibility of alternative options.
  • Economic Factors: Cost-effectiveness remains a significant consideration for ship owners when choosing recycling facilities. Balancing environmental and safety concerns with economic viability will be essential.


The coming months will be crucial in determining the future of ship recycling practices for EU-flagged vessels. The outcome of the EUSRR review, coupled with developments in the Hong Kong Convention and the EU Waste Shipment Regulation, will likely shape the landscape and potentially open doors for Asian yards to participate in compliant shipbreaking activities.

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