Plans by Danish Shipping giant Maersk Group to avoid European environmental law on ship recycling by flagging ships to non-EU flags seriously undermines its credibility as a responsible ship operator, according to campaign group the Clean Shipping Coalition.
According to the organisation Maersk has said that it will need to scrap more vessels in the coming years due to oversupply and low freight rates in the container market, and it estimates it can earn an additional $1-2 million per ship by using beaching yards in Alang, India.
“Maersk is a European company and should abide by European laws. Suggesting that it might use a flag of convenience to escape EU ship breaking rules designed to protect the environment and worker safety is scandalous, and will seriously undermine its credibility as a responsible ship owner and operator,” commented John Maggs, senior policy advisor at Seas At Risk and president of the Clean Shipping Coalition,
The Coalition noted that until recently, Maersk followed a progressive policy on ship recycling, including a ‘cradle to grave’ approach which committed to ‘total vessel recycling’.
However, the organisation damned the shipping company’s decision to resort to the low-cost method of beaching and said that ‘flagging out’ its ships beforehand undermines not only the its position as a responsible industry leader, but also European efforts to improve global conditions.
Recent technical guidelines for ship recycling facilities issued by the European Commission make it clear that a beach is not an appropriate place for a high-risk heavy industry involving hazardous waste management.
While only vessels sailing under an EU flag will be legally obliged to use an EU approved facility, the NGOs have called for all shipping companies around the world with a responsible policy to use EU-approved facilities to show that they are recycling vessels responsibly.
Sotiris Raptis, shipping officer at another campaign group, Transport & Environment, added: “While Maersk supports innovation in reducing air polluting emissions, this move shows a cavalier attitude towards the environmental impacts of dismantling ships in the intertidal zone.”
“Maersk needs to reverse course on practices that it previously denounced and that would never be allowed in Europe,” concluded Raptis.
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