Environmentally-responsible shipping lines are not only improving their ‘green credentials’ through slow steaming and by introducing more fuel-efficient tonnage, but also by choosing greener and cleaner methods for the disposal of vessels, according to Exim News Service.
A recent example is Safmarine’s conscious decision not to sell the 24-year-old Safmarine Cotonou when she reached the end of her service.
Instead, it opted for the vessel’s ‘green recycling’ at the ISO 14001-accredited Changjiang Shipbreaking Yard in Jiangyin, China, so that a significant portion of the vessel could be reused.
Watching a ship being ‘green’ recycled is much like watching a ship being built—only in reverse. For, the same care and attention to detail, which would accompany the construction of a vessel, is applied to its deconstruction, explains Mr Filip Geerts, Safmarine’s Antwerp-based Health, Safety and Environment Manager.
"Green or clean recycling of ships is a trend which is definitely gaining favour as shipowners show increased responsibility towards the environment and the cost gap between ‘clean’ and ‘traditional’ recycling continues to narrow," Mr Geerts elaborates.
He says shipowners, initially opposed to the idea because of the perceived, significantly higher cost, are now realising the value, both economically and environmentally, of dismantling and disposing of the vessel in a ‘green way’.
"Green recycling of ships needn’t be cost-prohibitive. At Safmarine, we are kept informed, at all times, of the costs associated with the recycling of the vessel and there are no hidden costs or surprises, a refreshing change from using the traditional beaching method where shipbreakers often ‘reopen’ negotiations after the vessel has been grounded and can no longer be moved."
He says Safmarine also appreciates the transparency of the process.
"All the materials removed from the vessel can be traced, something which is beyond the current international requirements for shipbreaking, although we expect this will become a future requirement."
Mr Geerts explains several steps were involved in clean recycling of the Safmarine Cotonou, a process which took three months to finish.
"After the crew disembarked, the vessel underwent a pre-inspection to obtain her green passport. This involved establishing an inventory of all materials, operationally-generated wastes and stores on board.
"Several ‘surveys’ were then conducted with a focus on identifying any ‘toxic’ materials.
"Every loose item was collected and disposed of in an environmentally-sensitive manner.
"Food, perishables and medicines were incinerated, cables were cut, oil removed to an oil treatment zone, refrigerants recovered and all materials, panels and insulation etcetera were removed, as were all fixtures in the accommodation.
"Safe access was created after fumigation of the vessel to ensure sufficient light and ventilation holes and only when all items were safely removed and the vessel pre-cleaned, was it time to cut the steel structure."
The recycling was overseen by a team appointed by Maersk Ship Management (MSM).
"The entire process was documented with Safmarine receiving extensive supporting information, including photos, certificates, permits and the like," Mr Geerts added.