Why responsible ship recycling matters

Despite many shipowners having policies for responsible ship recycling, nearly 90% of the gross tonnage recycled is handled in sub-standard health, safety and environmental conditions.

With global ship recycling volumes predicted to double by 2028, and quadruple by 2033, urgent action is needed to ensure that the growth in demand for ship recycling services is met by suppliers with responsible practices.

Why responsible ship recycling matters

Progress in 2021:

Fatalities or lost-time incidents since 2017 in Alang recycling yards
Spills or hazardous materials incidence since 2017 in Alang recycling yards
Health and safety trainings provided in Alang recycling yards

Our ambition

We will ensure safe and responsible ship recycling globally to the benefit of workers, the environment, and responsible yards and ship owners.

Responsible ship and recycling

Priorities and actions

To support a global transition towards a responsible, practice-driven, and financially viable ship recycling industry, we have established five core commitments that will guide our work to deliver both short and long-term positive change.

Our commitments on ship recycling

  1. Create opportunities for responsible ship recycling of post-panamax ships globally
  2. Work with industry stakeholders to support yards globally, including in non-OECD countries, to achieve EUSRR compliance – increasing actual capacity on the EU list
  3. Continue development of the wider Alang area – where around 29% of the world’s tonnage is sent for recycling
  4. Actively support the Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative scale-up work and raise the profile of transparency
  5. Identify Maersk’s role in decarbonising the global steel value chain by leveraging ship recycling volumes in the long term

Setting the bar in responsible ship recycling

All Maersk vessels are recycled in accordance with the Maersk Responsible Ship Recycling Standard (RSRS). This standard is based on a strict interpretation of the Hong Kong Convention (HKC) regarding health, safety and environmental issues, and goes beyond HKC in key areas including anti-corruption and labour and human rights.

Sustaining transformation in Alang

We have to date recycled 16 vessels in six yards in Alang, India, where around 29% of the world's tonnage is sent for recycling. Our engagement has transformed the local industry, and more than 90 yards have voluntarily invested to be compliant with The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC).

Impact studies of our investments in Alang indicate that the yards recycling our vessels perform on par with yards categorised as responsible recycling facilities elsewhere in the world. We also continue to support local communities by improving access to health.

You can read more about our work in Alang in our Sustainability Report 2021.

Closing the post-panamax capacity gap

A significant part of the global shipping fleet becoming ready for recycling in the next decade will be in the “post-panamax” category: too large to navigate the Panama Canal, and too large to be responsibly recycled in most of the world’s available recycling facilities.

Given the urgency of this challenge, it is crucial that we use our reach to drive traction among industry players. Only by building the business case, and sending demand signals, can we spur the development of responsible recycling opportunities for post-panamax vessels globally.

Building global ship recycling capacity

Compounding the post-panamax challenge is a delay in including yards located in non-OECD countries on the EU List of yards allowed to recycle vessels registered in EU countries. 

Very few yards on the EU List are capable of handling post-panamax vessels. Moreover, a 2020 study by the Baltic and International Maritime Council indicates that even fewer wish to accept commercial vessels for recycling as their current activities are more profitable.

Securing transparency on policies and practices

Maersk is a founding signatory and steering group member of the Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative (SRTI). The SRTI works to accelerate a voluntary, market-driven approach to responsible ship recycling by shipowners.

As part of the initiative, shipowners across a range of vessel types and geographies are already disclosing data on recycling policies and practices. This is enabling investors and cargo owners to make informed decisions and reward good practices through the market.

Growing demand for green steel

Steel is a core engineering and construction material, but the steel industry is among the largest emitters of CO2. Many stakeholders are joining forces to find ways to develop steel with less impact.

We predict steel-scrap from large vessels will increasingly be seen as a viable raw material for producing green steel. We will engage with shipping industry stakeholders to better understand the global steel value chain, and how we can play a role in its decarbonisation.

Explore our ship recycling activities

Maersk Sustainability Report 2021

Read more about our progress on environmental, social and governance dimensions in our latest Sustainability Report.
Maersk sustainability report

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