Eyebrows were raised on 16 May 2016 when Maersk Wyoming arrived at the Shree Ram Group’s plot no. 78 in Alang, India for dismantling and recycling. Shortly after, it was followed by Maersk Georgia. These were the first vessels that Maersk sold to a ship recycler in the northwest corner of India, known for poor working and environmental conditions. Maersk’s decision to sell ships to these yards was criticised.
Maersk, however, was determined to show that change for the better was possible by incentivising the ship recyclers to comply with a higher standard (the A.P. Moller - Maersk Responsible Ship Recycling Standard, based on a strict interpretation of the Hong Kong Convention) and by having an onsite team to ensure implementation of the standard. During the summer of 2017, the dismantling of both Maersk Georgia and Maersk Wyoming was completed, proving the case.
“The completion report for Maersk Georgia and Maersk Wyoming shows that commercially viable and responsible ship recycling in Alang is possible,” says John Kornerup Bang, Head of Sustainability Strategy & Shared Value at A.P. Moller - Maersk.
Audits show that all the yards Maersk works with are operating in full compliance with its standard. The yards managed to fully eliminate contact with the intertidal zone during primary cutting, and Maersk has now made this a mandatory requirement in its standard. This means that they are operating to at least the same level as when Maersk recycles vessels in China and Turkey.
Investing in change
Maersk engaged with the yard before the ships arrived to Alang and throughout the recycling. This way, the company ensured that the yard not only agreed with and upgraded to comply with its standard but that the recycling of the vessels was carried out accordingly.