The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has introduced revised regulations designed to encourage obsolete vessels to be recycled in European Union (EU)-approved facilities throughout the world. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) also proposed that the scheme be funded by a recycling levy that would make scrapping ships in EU-approved facilities cost-competitive. Owners of EU ships would face penalties if they sold them to be scrapped in a developing country.
“Today’s vote will hopefully put an end to EU ships being recklessly scrapped in developing countries,” says Carl Schlyter, who is steering the legislation within Parliament. “Currently, most EU ships are sent to Southeast Asia at the end of their lives, where they are beached and their hazardous materials harm human health and the environment.
“MEPs have voted by a very large majority to create financial incentives to scrap ships safely, including a recycling fund financed by the industry itself,” Schlyter continues. “This would steer ships that trade with the EU into proper ship recycling facilities. We hope that this will now be included in the final legislation.”
The law would apply to EU ships. However, several of the provisions, including the recycling levy, would also apply to any ship calling at a port or anchorage of an EU member state.
Member states would be required to ensure that an inventory of hazardous materials is established on board each EU ship. Non-EU ships entering a port or an anchorage of a member state would also have to have a hazardous materials inventory on board. If an inspection showed that the condition of ship does not comply with the inventory, penalties could be imposed.
To help make the scheme economically viable, a recycling fund should be set up, says the committee. Both EU and non-EU ships would be able to use the fund, which would be financed, in line with a “polluter pays” principle, by a recycling levy to be charged for any port call by EU or non-EU ships. Ship owners could choose between an annual recycling levy, directly payable to the fund, and a fee per port call, which would be collected by port authorities.
Ships would be exempted from paying the recycling levy if their owners deposited a financial guarantee to ensure that they use EU-listed facilities for recycling and treatment. Charging the levy on port calls would make it impossible to evade by re-registering a ship outside the EU, according to the European Parliament.
The draft regulation also calls for penalties to be imposed on owners of EU ships that are sold and sent, within 12 months of the sale, for recycling on a beach or in a facility not on the EU list.
Parliament as a whole will vote on the measures at a forthcoming plenary session on a mandate for negotiations with EU ministers.