Hong Kong Convention enters into force in 2025

After the recent accession of Bangladesh and Liberia, the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships will enter into force in two years time. The Hong Kong Convention sets mandatory standards for the recycling of seagoing ships and regarding materials used on board.

Depositing instrument of accession with IMOMore than 15 years after its adoption, the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong Convention) will enter into force on 26 June 2025. With the recent accession of Bangladesh, as location of many recycling facilities, and Liberia, as a large flag state, the Hong Kong Convention has exceeded the 40% of the world merchant tonnage necessary to enter into force. Germany ratified the Hong Kong Convention in July 2019 (the photo shows depositing of the instrument of accession with the IMO Secretary General).

In recycling countries such as Bangladesh and India so called "Beaching" is still common practice. Beaching is a dismantling method where seagoing vessels are beached (driven onto a flat sandy beach at high speed) for subsequent manual dismantling often without any regards to environmental or occupational health and safety standards.

Rückbau des Massengutfrachters Captain Tsarev auf EU-zertifizierter Werft in Brest Frankreich.jpgIn the EU some of the provisions of the Hong Kong Convention are already in place and mandatory for its member states. With the EU Regulation (EU) 1257/2013 on Ship Recycling, the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) has already become a mandatory part of ship documentation for seagoing ships flying the flag of an EU country.

However, so far only a few recycling facilities outside of Europe have been certified according to the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. In many cases this has led to shipping companies selling their out-of-service ships to somewhere outside of the EU where the ships then fly a non-EU flag and get recycled in south Asia.

The adoption of the Hong Kong Convention in 2009 as well as the EU Ship Recycling Regulation have contributed to the recent shift in awareness. Many of the internationally established recycling yards in India and Bangladesh are currently adjusting their ship recycling practices to the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention. Right on time too, since the shipping organization BIMCO estimates that within the next ten years about 15,000 seagoing ships will need to be recycled.