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The Evolving Landscape of Ship Recycling: Balancing Regulations with Practical Solutions

The Evolving Landscape of Ship Recycling: Balancing Regulations with Practical Solutions

The Evolving Landscape of Ship Recycling: Balancing Regulations with Practical Solutions

The world of ship recycling is a complex one, caught in a tug-of-war between stricter regulations and the need for practical solutions. Companies that act as middlemen between ship owners and recycling facilities are taking proactive steps to improve the industry. This article explores these efforts, highlighting the challenges and innovative approaches being implemented.

Navigating a Multifaceted Challenge

Vagelis Chatzigiannis, a senior trader at GMS, a company that plays a key role in ship recycling, emphasizes the multifaceted nature of the industry’s challenges. He points to two critical factors: the ever-changing regulatory landscape and the ongoing development of infrastructure at ship recycling facilities. Chatzigiannis stresses the importance of ongoing collaboration between all stakeholders involved, along with clear and well-defined regulations, to achieve safe and environmentally friendly ship recycling.

The Need for More Nuanced Assessments

Current regulations, according to Pia Meling, managing director of Grieg Green, another company involved in ship recycling, have limitations. The existing system simply grants a binary approval to a facility every five years, lacking a more nuanced evaluation scale. Meling highlights the need for a system that can assess the vast differences between recycling facilities, some of which may only meet the minimum compliance requirements, with little incentive to go beyond in terms of safety, working conditions, and environmental protection.

Grieg Green’s Yard Score: A Data-Driven Approach

Grieg Green addresses this need through their YardScore initiative. This system offers a neutral, data-driven way to compare shipyards across different countries. It utilizes a standardized and transparent scale to evaluate various practices, including emissions control, material circularity (the ability to reuse materials), material flow management, infrastructure quality, worker safety, and overall working conditions.

Circular Ship breaking: A Pilot Project for the Future

Damen Shipyards is taking a pioneering approach with their pilot project for circular ship breaking. This project involves dismantling the historic tugboat “Jan,” built in 1927, in a way that maximizes environmental and economic benefits. The project adheres to strict EU regulations and is being carried out at Damen Ship repair Rotterdam’s Botlek site.

Maximizing Environmental and Economic Returns

Arnout Damen, group chief executive of Damen Shipyards, explains the broader vision behind the project. He emphasizes that ship life cycle management is crucial, encompassing not just design, construction, maintenance, and refit, but also, and perhaps most importantly, the dismantling process at the end of a ship’s lifespan, with a focus on maximizing material reuse.

Identifying Reuse Potential: Collaboration is Key

To achieve the goal of maximizing environmental and economic returns, Damen Shipyards is collaborating with Bottelier Slooptechniek, a company certified in circular demolition techniques. Nick van Egten, commercial director and co-owner of Bottelier Group, explains their role in the project. Their expertise lies in identifying all the materials used in the “Jan” and then assessing their potential for reuse. This allows the project to maximize the environmental and economic benefits by giving these materials a second life.


The ship recycling industry is undergoing a period of significant change. While new regulations raise the bar for environmental and safety standards, companies are stepping up to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Initiatives like Yard Score and circular ship breaking projects offer promising solutions for a more sustainable future for ship recycling. Continued collaboration between stakeholders – ship owners, recycling facilities, and intermediary companies – will be crucial to ensure the industry meets the challenges of the future.

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