Towards Cleaner Scrapping of Old Ships

Plans to clean up the scrapping of old ships and ensure the materials are recycled in EU-approved facilities worldwide have been revised by the Environment Committee. MEPs propose that the scheme be funded by a recycling levy, in line with the “polluter pays” principle. Owners of EU ships would also face penalties if they sold them for scrapping on a beach in developing countries.

The draft regulation aims to reduce the adverse effects of careless scrapping, such as accidents, injuries or damage to human health or the environment, by ensuring that EU ships, and non-EU ships that have called regularly at EU ports, are scrapped in EU-approved facilities worldwide. An EU fund, to be financed by levies on all ships visiting EU ports, would make scrapping ships in EU-approved facilities competitive.

The law would apply to EU ships, but some of its provisions, including the recycling levy, would also apply to any ship calling at a port or anchorage of an EU member state.

Member states would be required to ensure that an inventory of hazardous materials is established on board each EU ship. Non-EU ships entering a port or an anchorage of a member state would also have to have a hazardous materials inventory on board. If an inspection showed that the condition of ship does not comply with the inventory, penalties could be imposed.

To help make the scheme economically viable, a recycling fund should be set up, says the committee. Both EU and non-EU ships should be able to use the fund, which would be financed, in line with the “polluter pays” principle, by a recycling levy to be charged for any port call by EU or non-EU ships. Ship owners could choose between an annual recycling levy, directly payable to the fund, and a fee per port call, which would be collected by port authorities.

Ships would be exempted from paying the recycling levy if their owners have deposited a financial guarantee to ensure that they use EU-listed facilities for recycling and treatment. Charging the levy on port calls would make it impossible to evade by “outflagging”, i.e. re-registering a ship outside the EU.

Penalties would be imposed on owners of EU ships that are sold and sent, within a twelve months of the sale, for recycling on a beach or in a facility not on the EU list.

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