Polluting and dangerous practices of ship dismantling continue to be a major concern. At the end of their useful life, most of the ships is scrapped in yards using methods with considerable impacts on environmental and health. These negative aspects prevent ship recycling from becoming a truly sustainable industry.

In the international level, ships that become waste are covered by the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, of 22 March 1989, which was approved for ratification by Decree No. 37/93, of 20 October.

At European Union level, the Regulation (EC) No. 1013/2006 on Waste Shipment of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 14 June 2006, applies within the European Union the requirements of the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans Boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and also applies an amendment to the Convention adopted in 1995, so-called 'Basel ban', which has not yet entered into force at international level and which prohibits the export of hazardous waste from Member States (MS) to countries that are not members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Under Regulation (EC) No. 1013/2006, ships flying the flag of an EU Member State sent for dismantling are classified as hazardous waste because dangerous substances are present therein and it is therefore prohibited to export them for recycling in shipyards located in non-OECD countries.

The failure to comply with the provisions of the Basel Convention and Regulation (EC) 1013/2006, in particular as regards:

  • The lack of recycling capacity in OECD countries, in particular as regards larger ships
  • The fierce and unfair competition from low quality shipyards when compared to yards that apply higher technical standards
  • The fact that current legislation is not adapted to the specific characteristics of ships and international maritime transport, highlighting the ineffectiveness of these instruments at international and EU level and have led the Parties to the Basel Convention to request the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2004 to establish mandatory requirements for ship recycling in order to improve this situation.

In this context, efforts have been made in the field of interagency cooperation between the International Labour Organization (ILO), the IMO and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention, which have led to agreement on the introduction of mandatory global requirements to ensure an efficient and effective approach to hazardous and polluting practices for ship recycling, with the adoption in 2009 of the Hong Kong International Convention on the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong Convention).

The Hong Kong Convention shall enter into force only 24 months after its ratification by at least 15 States whose combined merchant fleets represent at least 40% of the gross tonnage of the world merchant fleet and whose combined maximum annual recycling volume of vessels in the preceding 10 years represents at least 3% of the gross tonnage of their combined merchant fleets.

The Convention comprises design, construction, operation and preparation of ships in order to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships, as well as the operation of ship recycling yards, safe and environmentally sound manner, and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling.

On 20 November 2013, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) No 1257/2013 on ship recycling, which aims to:

  • To prevent, reduce, minimize and, as far as possible, eliminate accidents, injuries and other adverse effects on human health and the environment caused by ship recycling
  • To strengthen the security and protection of the human health and marine environment of the European Union throughout the life cycle of ships, in particular to ensure that hazardous materials from their recycling are environmentally sound management
  • To facilitate rapid ratification of the Hong Kong Convention both within the European Union and third countries, by applying proportionate controls on ships and ship recycling yards inspections provided on the basis of the Convention
  • To Reduce disparities between operators in the European Union, OECD countries and relevant third countries in terms of health and safety in the workplace and environmental standards, and direct ships flying the flag of a Member State to ship recycling yards that apply safe and environmentally sound methods of ship dismantling, rather than directing them to locations which do not comply with international standards.

It is noted that Regulation (EU) No 1257/2013 goes beyond the provisions of the Hong Kong Convention, in particular in the following Articles:

  • Article 13, which establishes the requirements for the inclusion of ship recycling yards in the European List
  • Article 15, which determines the evidence to be provided to demonstrate compliance with Article 13, including regular on-site inspections
  • Article 16 on the establishment and updating of the European List
  • Article 23, which confers on natural or legal persons the right to request intervention in the case of violation of Article 13, in conjunction with Article 15 and Article 16/1/ b), of said Regulation.

Given that the provisions of this Regulation only permit the recycling of EU vessels in non-OECD countries when they are truly safe and environmentally friendly, and insofar as the ban on the export of OECD Dangerous Substances to countries that are not members of the Organization under the Basel Convention has proved difficult to implement, it should be noted that there is no reason to prevent MS from ratifying the Hong Kong Convention, as a global step towards safer and greener recycling of non-EU ships.

The Regulation shall not apply before 31 December 2015, but no later than 31 December 2018, except for the following provisions, which shall apply on the following dates:

  • Article 2, the second subparagraph of Article 5(2), and Articles 13, 14, 15, 16, 25 and 26 shall apply from 31 December of 2014
  • First and third subparagraphs of Article 5(2), and Article 12(1) (8) shall apply from 31 December 2020.

European List of Ship Recycling Yards (6th version)
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 Ready to Recycle Ship Certificate Model

In accordance with Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No. 1257/2013, a specific recycling plan must be drawn up before any ship is recycled.

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 Declaration of Completion of the Ship Recycling Model

Pursuant to Article 13(2)(c) of Regulation (EU) No. 1257/2013, the operator of a ship recycling yard is obliged to send a Declaration of Completion of the Ship Recycling to the Administration which issued the Ship Certificate Ready to Recycle within 14 days of the date of full or partial recycling in accordance with the recycling plan.

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 Model for the Communication of the Predicted Date for the Start of Ship Recycling Scheduled Date Communication Model for Ship Recycling Start

Pursuant to Article 13(2) (b) of Regulation (EU) No, 1257/2013, the operator of a ship recycling yard is obliged to inform the Administration that the recycling yard is ready in all aspects to start the ship recycling.

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 Model of Hazardous Materials Inventory Certificate

In accordance with the requirements of Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No. 1257/2013, the ships must carry on board an inventory of hazardous materials. In accordance with Article 32 of that Regulation, the obligation to carry on board an inventory of hazardous materials has to be complied with in the case of existing ships as from 31 December 2020; in the case of new ships at the latest with effect from 31 December 2018, and in the case of ships sent for recycling as from the date of publication of the European List of Ship Recycling Yards.

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 EMSA Guidance on the Inventory of Hazardous Materials
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Please see here for further information on the requirements of Regulation (EU) No. 1257/2013 on ship recycling