Recycling the end-of-life ships is a major industry that is a source of steel and other recyclable items. While the industry provides an important source of raw materials and employment to the countries in which it is based, there is concern about the environmental, health and safety standards employed in the dismantling and recycling of vessels that can contain substances ranging from asbestos to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
In an effort to improve the health, safety and environmental standards in the ship-
recycling industry in Pakistan, the United Nations Environment Programme's
Secretariat of the Basel Convention convened a three-day international workshop on Ship
Recycling Technology and Knowledge Transfer in Izmir, Turkey.
The workshop, which was held in cooperation with the Government of Turkey and the Ship Recyclers' Association of Turkey, ended today with progress being made on strengthening the understanding of the Convention's role in the international regulatory regime of ship recycling.
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal has been involved in the issue of ship recycling since the late 1990s. While the Convention applies to the recycling of end-of-life ships, it has been difficult to enforce over the years due to its provisions.
In May 2009, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. The Convention, which has yet to come into force, places specific requirements on ships from their design and construction to their operation and recycling.
The South Asian region, namely India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, dominates the global ship-recycling industry, currently occupying 70 to 80 percent of the market, with China and Turkey occupying much of the remainder.