Ship recycling, also known as shipbreaking, is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of the maritime industry. As vessels age or become obsolete, responsible disposal becomes imperative. Recognising the need for responsible ship recycling, the maritime industry has witnessed the development of international regulations and standards. The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships sets guidelines for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of ships, promoting environmentally friendly recycling practices whilst the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal adopted in 1989 have been instrumental to ensure that best practices are followed in the transhipment of hazardous waste and materials.
In 2023, Vassallo Associates assisted shipowners through the complex Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste Notification Procedure under the Basel Convention about the scrappage of the MT CHEM P (formerly known as MT Chemical Pioneer). Vassallo Associates played a pivotal role in ensuring compliance with TFS Movement Notification Procedure, compilation of the documentation required for the issuance of an export permit and liaising with local competent authorities for the transboundary movement of the vessel from Malta to Turkey. In this respect, when discussing transboundary movements under the Basel Convention, there are several notable points worth mentioning to provide a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory framework and its implications.
Here are key points to consider:
- Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure:
The convention establishes a Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure, requiring the exporter to obtain written consent from the importing country before shipping hazardous waste. This process ensures that the importing country is aware of the nature of the waste and has the capacity to manage it safely.
- Transboundary Movement Notification Procedures (TFS):
The TFS procedure is a key element of the Basel Convention, requiring parties to notify and receive consent for the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. This involves providing comprehensive information about the waste, its characteristics, and the intended disposal or recycling methods.
- Financial Guarantee
The convention includes provisions for liability and redress in case of damage resulting from the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. This ensures that parties responsible for such movements bear the financial and legal consequences of any harm caused. Notable is the fact that exporters/notifiers must provide adequate financial guarantee based on a mathematical formula which differs from State to State through a financial institution which is duly recognized by the State of Export.
- Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM)
The IHM includes a wide range of hazardous materials commonly found in ships, such as asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals, ozone-depleting substances, and various chemicals. It is imperative that the IHM provides a comprehensive overview of all hazardous materials on board for the purposes of the TFS Movement Notification Procedure. The IHM is globally recognized, and its adoption is increasingly widespread including States parties to the Hong Kong Convention and the European Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SRR). The IHM is also a sin a quo non for the purposes of the Ship Recycling Plan (SRP) as the SRP outlines how the recycling process will be carried out in a safe and environmentally sound manner.
While both the Hong Kong Convention and the Basel Convention contribute to the broader goals of environmental protection and sustainable practices, they have distinct focuses and applications. The Hong Kong Convention is tailored specifically to the shipping industry, emphasising the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships. On the other hand, the Basel Convention has a more extensive scope, addressing hazardous waste management across various industries and activities. Both conventions play crucial roles in fostering global cooperation and standards for responsible environmental practices in ship recycling.
Disclaimer: This article is not to be construed as being legal advice, and is not to be acted on as such. Should you require further information or legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us for further assistance.