ShippingWatch

NGOs criticize Maersk's new scrapping policy in joint statement

A coalition of NGOs voice sharp criticism of Maersk's proposal to flag out ships in order to have them scrapped in India. The carrier is undermining its own credibility as an owner and operator, argues the Clean Shipping Coalition. Maersk Group rejects the criticism.

Maersk Wyoming arrived to the Shreeram yard in Alang, India, in late May. Photo: PR-foto/Maersk Line

Yet another NGO has expressed its dissatisfaction with Maersk's proposal to potentially flag out its European ships in order to scrap them at yards in Alang, India.

Last week, the container carrier told ShippingWatch that it is considering re-flagging its vessels in order to circumvent the EU's coming list of approved scrapping yards.

This has been met with criticism from the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, which argues that if Maersk makes good on its threat to shift flags, then it will undermine European environmental laws.

Now, an association of NGOs, Clean Shipping Coalition, has joined the chorus of critical voices. The coalition, which represents 11 different environmental organizations, has issued a press release accusing the carrier of abandoning its responsibilities.

"Maersk is a European company and should abide by European laws. Suggesting that it might use a flag of convenience to escape EU ship breaking rules designed to protect the environment and worker safety is scandalous, and will seriously undermine its credibility as a responsible shipowner and operator," says John Maggs, President of the Clean Shipping Coalition.

The EU's list of approved yards enters into force next year and applies to vessels sailing under EU flags. The stringent requirements for EU approval means that many Southeast Asian yards will likely not appear on the list. The Maersk Group has therefore announced that it will consider changing flags on its European vessels in order to be able to scrap them at yards in Alang.

Maersk rejects criticism

Environmental and working standards amongst scrapping yards in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where close to 70 percent of the world's vessels are scrapped, have long been criticized.

However, several yards in Alang now live up to the IMO's Hong Kong convention, and the standards have been raised to such an extent that Maersk is prepared to send its vessels for scrapping at the site.

We have not lowered our standard or changed our policy following our engagement in Alang

Annette Stube, Head of CSR, Maersk Group
The group hopes its involvement will support further improvements at the yards, explains Maersk Group's head of CSR, Annette Stube, in a written answer to ShippingWatch.

"The development in recent years in Alang has seen a number of certified yards capable of recycling to our standards. In our view, it is essential to support this development – and we do that most effectively by bringing our ships to be recycled responsibly in Alang. We consider our engagement an opportunity to change the industry for the better," she says, while also rejecting the notion that the company has compromised its standards.

"The Maersk Group has had its responsible ship recycling policy since 2009 - and we have not lowered our standard or changed our policy following our engagement in Alang," says Stube.

The 20-year-old vessel Maersk Wyoming arrived at the certified Shreeram yard in Alang at the end of May. According to Marinetraffic.com, Maersk Georgia arrived in Alang on Tuesday.

EU is already using scrapping rule to stop carriers

Carriers' flag strategy could be blocked by EU rules

NGO: Maersk undermines European regulations

Maersk wants more carriers to scrap ships in Alang

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