Leading change in ship recycling industry

A.P. Moller - Maersk aspires to lead the transformation of the global ship recycling industry to promote responsible practices, greater transparency and a level playing field.

Tackling an industry-wide problem

No less than 85% of all ships are dismantled at sub-standard facilities in South Asia. This happens despite many large shipowners having a policy on responsible ship recycling.

This is an industry problem which leads to widespread underpayments, unsafe working conditions and environmental pollution as well as an uneven playing field within the shipping industry.

No shipowner can solve this alone.

High standard and strong implementation

In the absence of relevant and enforced global legislation, market-based solutions are needed to make responsible ship recycling a reality. A high, voluntary standard must go hand in hand with strong implementation on the ground, achieved through robust supervision and audits.

This page discloses our stance and practices related to all these aspects. We urge all other ship owners to do the same and become a driving force for a safe and responsible, global ship recycling industry.

Breaking the stalemate

What are the current and future challenges in the ship recycling industry and what is Maersk’s take on how to solve them? Read this feature story by John Kornerup Bang, Head of Sustainability Strategy & Shared Value at A.P. Moller - Maersk.


The A.P. Moller - Maersk Responsible Ship Recycling Standard

  • Since 2009, A.P. Moller - Maersk has had a responsible ship recycling standard based on a strict interpretation of the Hong Kong Convention regarding health, safety and environmental issues
  • Makes additional demands regarding practices
  • The standard goes beyond the Hong Kong Convention, e.g. by eliminating contact with the intertidal zone and by introducing clean blockswithin anti-corruption, subcontractor conditions, labour and human rights as well as waste management – all based on international standards
  • Limits our scope for selling old vessels near end of life, to eliminate incentives for selling vessels with the aim of substandard recycling by third parties



  • Yards are audited by Lloyds register and Elevate - prior to commencement of recycling, during recycling and after completion of the process
  • Maersk staff is present on the ground for supervision, training and capacity building with contractual right to stop work when observing unsafe behaviour or processes 
  • Audits, supervision, the right to stop work and specific recycling plot to be used are all stipulated in the contract with the buyer (including cash buyers) and enforced at the yards

Maersk in Alang

In 2016, Maersk began sending ships to selected yards in Alang, India. The purpose of working with yards in Alang is to use commercial power to change conditions on the ground and build leverage to transform the industry.

The completion report for the first two vessels Maersk sent to a ship yard in Alang – Maersk Georgia and Maersk Wyoming – was finalised in 2017. It shows that commercially viable and responsible ship recycling in Alang is possible.

Full transparency

To move beyond selected yards, more shipowners need to become involved. Maersk has been a key player in establishing the Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative with the purpose of creating full market transparency and as a result urge more shipowners to help drive the transformation of the industry. 

Also in 2017, Maersk began to engage in solving some of the most pressing challenges in the wider Alang area. The first priority relates to health and emergency response.

Maersk will continue to create change on the ground and engage with shipowners and other stakeholders to accelerate change.

Responsible ship recycling in Alang is possible

More than one year after the arrival of two Maersk vessels to Alang, the recycling of Maersk Wyoming and Maersk Georgia was completed with success in 2017. A twisted ankle and a minor gas leak were the most severe health, safety and environmental issues.


Improving health facilities in wider Alang

Another stated vision for engaging with ship recycling yards in Alang was to contribute to improving conditions for the wider Alang community. On behalf of A.P. Moller - Maersk, the Public Health Institute Foundation of India carried out a survey in the autumn of 2017.

The purpose was to assess the prevailing health hazards in the ship breaking yards in Wider Alang and risks faced by the workers, to assess gaps in existing health care services to address the health care needs of the workers and their families, and to provide recommendations for future efforts. Stakeholders such as the Red Cross, local hospitals and blood bank, workers, local authorities and the local ship recycling industry association were consulted for this survey.

Access to health care – in general and in case of emergencies – was identified by occupational health experts as the most urgent unmet need. As a first intervention in this area, Maersk and partners Indian Red Cross and the Ship Recycling Industry Association (SRIA) have established a mobile health van with a team of professionals that provides health care to all ship recycling workers in Alang as well as to the local community of the wider Alang area.

The mobile health unit will help improve general access to health care and motivate workers to seek early, correct and free treatment. The increased awareness will also promote timely diagnosis and treatment, and educate on healthy behaviour among workers and their families.