Building vessels to haul large loads of freight across the world’s oceans for years requires extensive time, materials, labor and energy.

Once these vessels are retired, what happens to them?

Two of the worst ship recycling practices are using manual labor instead of automation and releasing parts of ships into the tidal zone, according to Andrew Stephens, Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) executive director.

Confronting those types of issues is the goal of the Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative (SRTI), an independent platform hosted by the SSI. Launched in 2018, the SRTI is “focused on safe and responsible ship recycling at the end of life for vessels” and improving transparency in the ship supply chain, Stephens said.

“Ship recycling is an end-of-life industry. It’s one of the most hazardous parts of the shipping sector, but it’s hardly known to very many. The practices that are being exposed by others [have shown] the unsafe practices within the industry,” Stephens said during FreightWaves’ Global Supply Chain Week in March.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, as many as 10 vessels are disposed of in the ocean each year using the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act. They are typically larger vessels since smaller vessels can more easily be disposed of on land. The EPA said that ocean disposal should only be considered if reusing, recycling or scrapping parts of the vessel or disposing of the vessel on land is not possible.

The SRTI’s “theory of change” explains that when shipowners disclose tactics and are held accountable, it leads to demand for data and transparency along the shipping supply chain. That, in turn, leads to more informed decision-making among stakeholders and using knowledge as a driver for change in the market.

“Within the SSI, we welcome members across the value chain even at different stages of their sustainability journey because this is very much a collaborative environment where that learning is being shared, and we’re joining the dots across the value chain,” Stephens said.

The initiative has about 30 signatories, including big-name shippers such as AP Moller-Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd. 

View a comprehensive list of SRTI signatories here.

SRTI questions and costs

Shipowners have to fill out a disclosure questionnaire before they can become an SRTI signatory. The questionnaire covers policies and standards, selling owned vessels, inventory of hazardous materials and ship recycling documentation, ship recycling contracts, and policy and standard implementation.

Shipowners, lenders, insurance companies, class societies, and ratings and standards agencies pay a $5,000 annual fee to be part of the SRTI. According to SRTI, the fees go to running the online platform and developing and growing the initiative. The SRTI also receives external funding for operations and development.

Jacksonville, Florida-based Crowley joins initiative

In June, Crowley Maritime Corp. became the first U.S.-based ship operator to join the initiative. According to a release, Crowley is the 13th ship owner-operator to publicly disclose its ship recycling policies and practices.

“Crowley’s ambition is to be the most sustainable and innovative maritime and logistics solutions provider in the Americas by 2025. Making that vision a reality requires us as ship operators to embrace the sustainability of the total life cycle of a vessel,” Nico De Golia, director of global sustainability and corporate citizenship at Crowley, said in a statement. “We are proud to join the SRTI in promoting transparency in ship recycling policies, practice and processes to promote more responsible life-cycle management of vessels.”

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Alyssa Sporrer.

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